Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Mother testifies in Saddam's trial

GAS ATTACK The former president and co-defendants claim the `Anfal campaign' was a counter-insurgency operation aimed at Iranian infiltrators and separatists

AFP , BAGHDAD

Adiba Owla Bayez, a Kurdish mother who lost a child to a poison gas attack on her village nearly two decades ago, testifies in the Baghdad court yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

A Kurdish mother who lost a child to a poison gas attack on her village nearly two decades ago cursed ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on Wednesday, the third day of his trial for genocide.

"May God blind them all," cried 45-year-old Adiba Owla Bayez in court, pointing at Saddam and six other defendants accused with him of masterminding the savage 1987-1988 Anfal campaign against Iraq's Kurdish minority.

The accused appeared before a panel of judges at the Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad, where prosecutors began to call more witnesses to testify to the savagery of the Iraqi military sweep through their villages.

The former president is accused of ordering his forces to conduct a campaign to exterminate up to 182,000 Kurdish civilians and raze around 3,000 villages in Iraq's northern hills and deserts.

Bayez, wearing a black headscarf and dress, told the court that one of her daughters had died within three months of the chemical attack on her village, and she has since had two miscarriages.

Her testimony about the attack itself, describing how she and her family were temporarily blinded by gas during an air raid by Iraqi jets in April 1987, closely mirrored two accounts given on Tuesday.

"I was screaming because I did not want to lose my children. I could not see them and they were also blind. So I was screaming. It was a judgment day," she told the court.

She recounted how the villagers, many of them blinded, stumbled towards higher ground to seek shelter, while pursued by military helicopters. They were tracked down by Iraqi troops and taken to a detention centre, she said.

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