Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Saddam prosecutor blasts judge

STICKS AND STONES Saddam Hussein defended his `genocidal' decisions and accused the Kurdish guerrillas of being agents of the Iranian and Israeli governments

AFP , BAGHDAD

The prosecutor in the genocide trial of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein yesterday demanded the resignation of the chief judge, saying he was too lenient with defendants who had threatened lawyers and witnesses.

"Defendants have gone too far, with unacceptable expressions and words. Defendants have uttered clear threats. The chief prosecutor's office requests the judge step down from this case," prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon said at the opening of the latest hearing.

Presiding judge Abdullah al-Ameri dismissed the demand, saying: "The judge should coordinate and make peace so nobody takes advantage of his fairness ... I have been working in the judicial system for the past 25 years."

Saddam and six other former aides, including his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali," face genocide and other charges over the brutal Anfal campaign of 1987-1988 in which prosecutors say 182,000 Kurds were slaughtered.

If found guilty, they face execution by hanging.

Since the trial opened last month, Saddam has often threatened the prosecutor and questioned witnesses.

On Tuesday, Saddam threatened one of the witnesses' lawyers as he defended the fight of the Kurdish guerrillas or peshmerga -- which means "those who face death" in Kurdish -- against the old regime.

Saddam accused him of being an agent of "Iranians and Zionists" and threatened to "crush his head."

On the opening day of the trial on Aug. 21, Saddam had also threatened Faroon after he charged that his forces had raped Iraqi women during the Anfal campaign.

"If he says and Iraqi woman was raped in my era and he does not prove it, I will hunt him down for the rest of my life," Saddam said at the time.

On Tuesday, Kurdish witnesses and Saddam traded accusations in a hearing marked by tales of horror recounted by Kurds.

Several witnesses gave chilling accounts of how Kurds were bombed, imprisoned and buried in mass graves by Saddam's forces during the Anfal attacks which coincided with the last years of the Iran-Iraq war.

Witness Akram Ali Hussein told the court on Tuesday how his uncle's daughter was imprisoned by Saddam's forces deep in the south of the country near the Saudi border.

"She was driven mad and died after she saw her brother's body eaten by dogs" who dug up a shallow grave outside the prison walls almost 20 years ago.

Three other witnesses also gave graphic descriptions of the attacks carried out by Saddam's forces.

By the end of the session on Tuesday, Saddam was showing obvious annoyance at the long litany of condemnations by the witnesses and attempted to provide his side of the story.

"I noticed today that there were too many insults ... when we put a lion in a cage, any coward can bring a stick and hit him," he said.

He described how he negotiated an end to a Kurdish uprising in 1975, after stopping what he said was Iranian interference in Iraq's affairs.

"This means that between the Iraqis -- Arabs and Kurds -- there were no problems," he said, however admitting that "there were some tragedies and in the fight some unpleasant things happened."

Those "unpleasant things" then took center stage in the trial as witnesses described receiving notification by authorities in 2004 that the identity cards of their relatives who had disappeared in the Anfal had been found in a mass grave in the north.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top