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Saddam Hears Testimony in Genocide Trial


Saddam Hussein's genocide trial continued in Baghdad, one day after the ex-leader was expelled from the courtroom. Kurdish witnesses have been telling the court they were raped, abused, and kept in horrible conditions.

Saddam Hussein was back in the courtroom Wednesday, and he and Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi argued with each other, but in a more subdued fashion than the shouting matches that have characterized other recent trial sessions.

The judge told Saddam that he could talk about legal points, but if he threatened witnesses, his microphone would be cut off.

Saddam quoted a Koranic verse about always fighting against enemies, and the television broadcast of the trial was silent for a while.

The court also heard Kurdish witnesses, including Abdul Khaliq Quadir Aziz, wearing a black and white turban and a green, Kurdish-style shirt.

He said Iraqi military forces attacked his village from two directions with tanks and guns capturing many people, including his sister, brother and father. His siblings disappeared, and his father described terrible conditions in the detention camp where he was confined.

Aziz said, according to his father, when they buried an inmate who died in the camp, dogs came along later, and dug up the corpse and ate parts of it. He also said guards beat a captive to death with a cable.

During earlier hearings on Monday and Tuesday, Kurdish witnesses said they were herded into prison camps where they suffered disease, hunger, rape, and and watched many relatives die.

Prosecutors say 182,000 Kurds were killed in camps, bombings and poison gas attacks between 1987 and 1988 in a campaign codenamed Operation Anfal.

Ex-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants insist the operation was a legitimate military campaign against separatist guerrillas.

Saddam and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former military commander in charge of gas attacks, are accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The five other co-defendants are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. All seven could be hanged if they are convicted.

The defendants' lawyers are boycotting the trial to protest alleged interference by the Iraqi government, which removed the previous chief judge for alleged bias in favor of the defendants.

Court-appointed lawyers are now conducting the defense.

Saddam and some former subordinates also face a separate trial in connection with the deaths of 148 Shi'ites in the 1980s in the town of Dujail. That case is set to reconvene next week.

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