Monday, December 18, 2006
The genocide trial of Saddam Hussain resumed in Baghdad on Monday, with the former Iraqi President appealing against charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in a military offensive against Kurds. More witness testimonials against Saddam and six other co-defendants were expected to be heard in court over the Operation Anfal offensive, with all seven men pleading not guilty. The prosecution estimates that 180,000 Kurds were killed in 1987-88 when Saddam’s army waged war against Kurdish separatist guerrillas, destroying hundreds of villages and reportedly killing residents or forcing them to flee.
Saddam and another defendant have also pleaded innocent to a further charge of genocide. All seven face the death penalty if found guilty. Saddam has already been given the death penalty in a separate trial where he was convicted of ordering the execution of 148 Iraqis, including children, after an attempt to assassinate him in the town of Dujail in 1982. His lawyers appealed against the sentence. Iraqi officials have suggested that Saddam's prosecution on genocide charges would be halted if the appeals court upholds the death sentence of the first trial.