Saddam Hussein to face trial Monday in high-profile Anfal case

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 21 August 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_A new legal chapter opens Monday for Saddam Hussein when the
ousted Iraqi leader goes on trial for a second time, charged with genocide
and war crimes from his scorched-earth offensive against Kurds nearly two
decades ago.

The case against Saddam and six co-defendants is tied to the deaths of tens
of thousands of people during the Iraqi army's "Operation Anfal" _ Arabic
for "spoils of war" _ and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The 1987-88 crackdown was aimed at crushing independence-minded Kurdish
militias and clearing all Kurds from the northern region along the border
with Iran. Saddam accused the Kurds of helping Iran in its war with Iraq.

Kurdish survivors say many villages were razed and countless young men

They also accuse the army of using prohibited mustard gas and nerve agents,
but the trial does not deal with the most notorious gassing _ the March 1988
attack on Halabja that killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds. That incident will
be part of a separate investigation by the Iraqi High Tribunal.

The trial begins as Saddam and seven others await a verdict from a trial for
their alleged involvement in the killings of more than 148 Shiite Muslims
from Dujail as punishment for an assassination attempt on Saddam in the town
in 1982.

Critics have decried the first trial's lengthy, sometimes chaotic

Human Rights Watch charged Friday that the Iraqi High Tribunal is incapable
of fairly and effectively trying Saddam and others on the Anfal charges "in
accordance with international standards and current international criminal

The New York-based group said the nine-month Dujail trial showed the court's
administration to be "chaotic and inadequate," and also complained that the
trial relied too heavily on anonymous witnesses. It said the court must
"improve its practices if it is to do justice."

The Dujail trial was marred by disorder, with Saddam repeatedly engaging in
arguments with the judges and then boycotting the proceedings. Defense teams
repeatedly walked out, prompting the appointment of replacements. Three
defense lawyers also were assassinated.

A U.S. official close to the tribunal defended its fairness Sunday.

He said that while none of the judges in the Anfal case have practiced
international human rights law, the panel has "an adviser experienced in
working with international tribunals." The official would not specify the
adviser's nationality but said the person is not an American.

Abdullah al-Amiri, a 54-year-old Shiite who was a judge under Saddam's
regime for 25 years, heads the five-member panel as chief judge.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the
diplomatic sensitivity of the case, said he expected the trial to proceed
faster than the Dujail case and added that more security was being provided
for defense attorneys.

Saddam's co-defendants include his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who allegedly
led Operation Anfal as secretary of the Baath Party's northern bureau.
Al-Majid's alleged role in the operation earned him the name "Chemical Ali"
for the use of poison gas.

Both Saddam and al-Majid are charged with genocide. They also are charged
with war crimes and crimes against humanity, as are the other five

Also on trial are Sabir al-Douri, former director of military intelligence;
Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, who was head of the Iraqi army's 1st Corps,
which executed the Anfal military operation; and Taher Tawfiq al-Ani, then
the Mosul governor.

The two other defendants are Hussein Rashid Mohammed, who was deputy
director of operations for the Iraqi military, and Farhan Mutlaq Saleh, then
head of military intelligence's Eastern regional office.

Iraqi officials and rights groups say the precise death count resulting from
Operation Anfal is difficult to determine because of the attacks' scale.
Estimates range from around 50,000 to well over 100,000.

Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman, who participated in talks then between
the Kurds and the former regime, said al-Majid in a way gave an estimate of
around 100,000.

"I was asking them about the whereabouts of 182,000 missing people whom we
didn't know if they were alive, dead or detained," Othman told The
Associated Press. Al-Majid "got angry and said where did you get these
numbers? They're about 100,000."

About 60 to 120 complainants and prosecution witnesses are expected to
appear before the court. The judges also will review more than 9,000

Many Kurds say they expect retribution.

"We have been wishing for this for so long _ to see the dictator Saddam
Hussein tried for these horrible crimes," said Othman Hajji Mahmoud,
interior minister in the Krudish region's provincial government.

The trial will be held at the same heavily guarded courthouse in the Green
Zone in Baghdad where the Dujail trial was held.

A verdict in the Dujail trial is expected when that court reconvenes Oct. 16
after an adjournment that began last month.

If Saddam should be convicted and sentenced to death in that case, it is
expected that under Iraqi law he would be dropped from the Anfal case, which
would continue against the other defendants.