Witness at Saddam genocide trial describes chemical attack

Witness at Saddam genocide trial describes chemical attack
September 18th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Witness at Saddam genocide trial describes chemical attack

Witness at Saddam genocide trial describes chemical attack
Byline: Jay Deshmukh
Date: 18 Sept 2006


BAGHDAD, Sept 18, 2006 (AFP) - The trial of ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam
Hussein on charges of genocide against the Kurds resumed Monday with
testimony from a witness badly burned in poison gas attacks.

Normally punctual judge Abdullah al-Ameri opened the session 90 minutes late
without commenting on the reason for the delay, following vociferous
criticism of him in recent days for his perceived leniency towards Saddam.

Chief prosector Munqith al-Faroon, who had been particularly vocal in his
criticism of the judge, appeared in the session to be sidelined in favor of
prosecutor Jaafar al-Mussawi.

Witness Karwan Abdallah Tawfiq described how his village was bombed and he
fled from the attacks with other villagers into the hills over the dead
bodies of the victims.

"I saw with my own eyes all those broken limbs," he said. It would be the
last thing he saw for some time as the chemical attacks burned his eyes and
he became unconscious.

"After two months I regained consciousness. I was disoriented. After that I
found myself with some friends at the Imam Khomeini hospital at Isfahan in

"I used to feel as if I was drunk the whole time. I spent six months in the
hospital, and in all that time I was unable to see," he said, describing how
he later sought and gained asylum and medical treatment in the Netherlands.

"Even my children are scared to see my eyes when I remove the glasses. My
eyes are scary," he told the court, taking off his sunglasses to reveal
heavily bloodshot eyes.

"Look at my eyes, look at my hands," he said to the court.

The judge told him to put his glasses back on again.

Tawfiq added that he had been part of a successful lawsuit in the Hague
against the Dutch arms trader that had sold chemical weapons to Saddam's

Saddam and six of his former associates were back in the dock Monday after a
three-day break to face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against

The seven are accused of spearheading the 1987-1988 "Anfal" campaign in
Iraq's northern Kurdish region, which prosecutors say killed 182,000 Kurds
after their villages were bombed, burned and razed to the ground.

If found guilty the defendants face execution by hanging.

The trial in recent sessions turned controversial after friendly exchanges
between the Shiite chief judge and Saddam, with the prosecutor and some
Kurdish and Shiite groups demanding Judge Ameri's resignation.

Investigative judge Raed al-Juhi has downplayed Ameri's comment to Saddam on
Thursday that he was not a dictator.

During a cordial exchange Ameri said to Saddam: "You were not a dictator,"
and suggested it was those close to him who made him look like one. Saddam
thanked the judge.

"In the court, many statements are made," Juhi told reporters Monday.

"Anything not legal would not affect the issue and the court will continue
with its neutrality. The judge is human after all," he said.

Iraq's Kurds are still nursing their wounds from Anfal, while Shiites are
awaiting the October 16 verdict in Saddam's first trial on charges of
murdering 148 villagers from Dujail village after an attempt on his life in
the 1980s.

"We demand the dismissal of the judge at the high tribunal and the
nomination of another competent and neutral judge whose ideas are not
polluted by the fascist Baath" party, said a statement from the Kurdish
Halabja center in Sulaimaniyah province.

Halabja was one of the Kurdish towns worst hit by chemical weapons attacks,
although these attacks are not part of the Anfal trial.

In Friday prayer sermons, Shiite clerics also took the judge to task for not
being firm enough with the former president.

Ameri has 25 years' experience and was also a judge under the former regime.

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