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Saddam back in court to face genocide charges

Written by: Staff

BAGHDAD, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The trial of Saddam Hussein for genocide against Kurds resumed on Thursday in a central Baghdad courtroom, with a witness taking the stand to describe how his village was attacked in 1988 by artillery and warplanes.

Saddam, 69, and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majeed, known as ''Chemical Ali'', face charges of genocide.

Five other former commanders also face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the 1988 Anfal -- or Spoils of War -- campaign that prosecutors said left 182,000 ethnic Kurds dead or missing, thousands killed by poison gas.

The first of the three scheduled witnesses of the day, Abdulla Mohammad Hussain, a villager from Sida near the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya, took the stand and recounted how his village was attacked by artillery fire and aircraft.

A slender man in his mid-50s, the witness wore a traditional Kurdish headdress as he gave his account in an animated voice.

The initial phase of the trial has featured a litany of often harrowing testimony from Kurdish survivors, who are considered plaintiffs under Iraqi law, entitled personally to accuse the defendants of crimes.

The ousted leader and his co-defendants, all of whom were present in court today, could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Saddam is also awaiting a verdict in a first, separate, trial for crimes against humanity over the deaths of 148 Shi'ite men after a failed assassination attempt against the former Iraqi president in 1982.


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