Prosecutors in Iraq have asked for the death penalty for former leader Saddam Hussein and two of his co-defendants for the killings of 148 Shi'ites.
In closing arguments on Monday in Baghdad, prosecutors asked that Saddam, his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan be sentenced to death.
The arguments begin the final phase of proceedings in the eight-month-old trial.
Saddam and seven co-defendants are accused of killing 148 Shi'ites in the town of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt there against him.
Meanwhile, an insurgent group in Iraq says it abducted two U.S. soldiers who have been missing since an attack Friday south of Baghdad. The group, linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, issued the claim in an Internet statement today, but U.S. officials say they cannot confirm it.
The insurgent group called the Mujahideen Shura Council offered no proof of the claims.
The U.S. military lists the soldiers' status as "whereabouts unknown." It says thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and police are searching for the men.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the disappearance of the soldiers is of great concern to all U.S. officials.
And an Italian news agency (ANSA) says prosecutors are seeking the indictment of a U.S. soldier in the shooting death of an Italian intelligence agent last year in Baghdad. The U.S. and Italy disagree over the circumstances of the agent's death. Rome blames the shooting on stress and inexperience of U.S. troops.
In the latest violence in Iraq, two bomb blasts in the Baghdad area killed seven people and wounded at least 13 others.