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Saddam court hears testimony on 1987 Balisan gas attack

[JURIST] Testimony from Kurdish survivors of the 1987-1988 Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder] in Iraq continued Wednesday during the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], where Hussein and six co-defendants face genocide and crimes against humanity charges [JURIST report]. Following testimony the day before describing chemical attacks [JURIST report], Adiba Oula Bayez, a Kurdish woman, described the August 16, 1987 attack on the village of Balisan [NPR report], where warplanes dropped bombs that spread smoke smelling of "rotten apples" which caused vomiting, burns and blindness. Helicopters bombed caves where villagers sought refuge from the bombings. Bayez, a mother of five, awoke in a military prison camp to find her children with "eyes swollen, their skin blackened."

Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile] face genocide charges for the Anfal campaign. Genocide is difficult to prove as prosecutors must show intent to exterminate an ethnic group. AP has more.

12:23 PM ET - Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri [JURIST report] on Wednesday adjourned proceedings until September 11, allowing time for the defense to file an appeal challenging the Iraqi High Tribunal's legitimacy. When the genocide trial opened on Monday, in addition to refusing to enter a plea [JURIST report], Hussein questioned the legitimacy of the tribunal, calling it "the law of the occupation." AP has more.

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