Try Saddam for gas attacks: Iran

POISON: Tehran says the former Iraqi president should be held accountable for the killing of thousands of Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war that spanned the 1980s


Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 1

Iran wants former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, whose Baghdad trial resumed on Wednesday, to be charged with ordering poison gas attacks that killed thousands of Iranian civilians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, a top Iranian official said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saddam had used chemical weapons to kill Iranians during the war, especially in Iran's northwestern Kurdish area, flattening entire villages and destroying farms.

"Iran is the main victim of chemical weapons. Saddam's use of chemicals was against international laws," Mottaki told reporters in a hospital where he was visiting "living martyrs," wounded survivors of Saddam's chemical weapons attacks.

Mottaki said Iran had prepared a petition which the foreign ministry would pass on to the court in Baghdad.

The petition included documents that proved Iraq's use of nerve and mustard gas during the eight-year war, Mottaki said.

"During the war, Saddam used chemicals against Iran 20 times," Mottaki said, adding that some 40,000 people had been affected.

Iran has repeatedly accused the West of supplying Saddam with the technology and some of the materials to develop chemical weapons.

But Iran was deeply concerned about the influence of the US on the trial, he added.


During his trial in Iraq yesterday, Saddam accused the White House of lying, citing its prewar assertions that Iraq had chemical weapons and its denial of his statement that he had been tortured in US custody.

Speaking at the start of the seventh session of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, Saddam rekindled his battle of words with Washington.

"The White House are liars. They said Iraq had chemical weapons," he told the court.

"They lied again when they said that what Saddam said was wrong," he added, referring to a White House dismissal of his claim that he was tortured.

Saddam made his torture allegation during Wednesday's hearing and said he had bruises on his body to prove it. He did not, however, show any bruises and the judge has so far made no public ruling on whether the allegation should be investigated.

"That's one of the most preposterous things I've heard from Saddam Hussein recently," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in Washington in response.

"Saddam Hussein is being treated the exact opposite of the way his regime treated those he imprisoned and tortured simply for expressing their opinions. And so I reject that," he said.

The judge dismissed a courtroom guard yesterday after the defendants complained he had threatened them, and Saddam's half-brother and co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti accused prosecutors of being former fellow members of the Baath party.

"This is the biggest insult in my life, to be associated with this blood-stained party," said one prosecutor, who asked to be relieved of his duties because of personal insults from the dock -- a request dismissed by the Kurdish judge.

The first witness to testify yesterday spoke from behind a curtain to protect his identity, but, like some earlier witnesses, said nothing directly implicating either Saddam or the other defendants in the Dujail killings.

Defense lawyers questioned his reliability as a witness, pointing out he was only eight in 1982.

"This is a waste of time," one said. "He was only a child."