Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Villager testifies in Saddam trial

August 24, 2006

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— A second day of drama unfolded Wednesday in the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein as a 45-year-old Kurdish villager cursed the former Iraqi dictator and his six co-defendants for the death and destruction they allegedly meted out 20 years ago during a seven-month campaign against Iraq's Kurdish minority.

Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, looks across the court Wednesday during day three of the Anfal Campaign trial in Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, looks across the court Wednesday during day three of the Anfal Campaign trial in Baghdad.

"May God blind them all," cried Adiba Awla Baiz, who said her daughter was killed during what has become known as the Anfal campaign. Saddam and the other defendants sat motionless during her outburst.

Baiz has had two miscarriages since gas attacks on her village, and a third child died in infancy, she testified. In her village alone, 29 men were "Anfalized," a term referring to people who were taken away and never heard from again.

Her testimony punctuated the third day of a trial where prosecutors are expected to present more than 120 witnesses and 9,000 pieces of evidence. Judge Abdullah al-Ameri then adjourned until Sept. 11, clearly disappointing those who'd hoped he would allow this case to unfold more quickly than Saddam's previous trial. In that case, Saddam is accused of ordering the deaths of 148 men and boys from the village of Dujail.

Wearing a traditional black Kurdish garment and headdress, Baiz described how Iraqi jets attacked her village on April 16, 1987. The raid left her family burned and blinded, and she described several days of wandering the countryside for treatment, only to be tracked down by Iraqi troops and taken to a detention center.

Saddam and the defendants, including his cousin, Ali Hassan Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, are accused of masterminding the Anfal campaign, which resulted in the destruction of 2,000 Kurdish villages and the deaths of as many as 182,000. Anfal is taken from a chapter in the Quran that means "spoils of war" against nonbelievers, but it has come to have the same connotation in Iraq as "ethnic cleansing" does in genocide cases, such as those in Rwanda and the Balkans.

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