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Saddam co-defendants deny using chemical weapons against Kurds

[JURIST] Two co-defendants charged along with Saddam Hussein testified Thursday that chemical weapons were not used against Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder] as the ousted Iraqi president's genocide trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] continued in Baghdad. Former defense minister Sultan al-Tai and former army operations deputy director General Hussein Mohammed claimed that only conventional weaponry was used, and that any action taken by them was by order of their superiors. The defendants further claimed that documents offered by the prosecution as evidence of the use of chemical weapons were forged. The trial has been adjourned until January 8. AP has more.

Hussein and six co-defendants all face crimes against humanity charges in connection with the Anfal attacks, and Hussein and co-defendant Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile], known in the West as "Chemical Ali," also face additional genocide charges [JURIST report]. Earlier this week, the prosecution offered video evidence of the gas attacks [JURIST report]. Hussein already faces the death penalty after being convicted [judgment; JURIST report] on separate crimes against humanity charges relating to a 1982 crackdown in the Iraqi town of Dujail. That verdict is currently on appeal, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that he hoped the appeal panel's ruling would be handed down soon and that Hussein would be executed next month [JURIST report].

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