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Saddam returns to court in Kurdish genocide trial

[JURIST] The trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] and six co-defendants on genocide and crimes against humanity charges related to the so-called "Anfal" operation [HRW backgrounder], which led to the killings of as many as 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s, resumed in Baghdad Monday with the testimony of a former Kurdish guerrilla who described the aftermath of the chemical weapons bombing campaign. Hussein and his co-defendants are all charged with crimes against humanity [JURIST report] and Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile], known as "Chemical Ali," also face more serious charges of genocide. In August, Kurdish witnesses testified about the alleged Anfal gas attack [JURIST report], when they described two planes flying over two Kurdish villages dropping chemical weapons on the villagers and said that many people were blinded in the attacks, though defense lawyers say the witnesses were coached. During Monday's session, Hussein insisted that Kurds had recognized rights under his regime, and that he had only retaliated against insurgents. Hussein also said that Iraqis "should not suffer from the guilt that they killed Kurds."

Hussein also is currently awaiting a verdict in the Dujail crimes against humanity case [JURIST report], which is expected on October 16. He is eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report] in the Dujail 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. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.

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