[JURIST] Witness testimony began Tuesday in Saddam Hussein's trial [JURIST news archive] on genocide and crimes against humanities charges [JURIST report] in connection to the so-called "Anfal" operation [HRW backgrounder] that led to the killings of as many as 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s. Two survivors described planes flying over two Kurdish villages dropping chemical weapons on the villagers and said that many people were blinded in the attacks. One of the witnesses also said she had been detained for over a week, and that two relatives had disappeared while being held. Several of the defendants and their lawyers questioned the testimony, saying the witnesses had been coached. Hussein and six co-defendants [AP profile] all face crimes against humanity charges at the Iraqi High Tribunal, and Hussein and co-defendant Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile], known as "Chemical Ali, face additional genocide charges. Testimony from survivors of the attack will continue when the trial [BBC timeline] resumes Wednesday.
Hussein also faces separate crimes against humanity charges [JURIST report] stemming from a crackdown in the Iraqi town of Dujail, and the court is expected to render a verdict on those charges October 16. Hussein is eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report] in that case, and a US official, speaking anonymously, indicated that the Anfal trial could continue posthumously [JURIST report] should Hussein be executed before proceedings in the second trial conclude. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.