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Saddam co-defendant takes center stage as genocide trial continues

[JURIST] Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile], the cousin of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] also known as "Chemical Ali," became the leading defendant Thursday in the genocide trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] currently before the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website]. The chief judge presiding over the trial dismissed all charges against Hussein [JURIST report] Monday following his December 30 execution [JURIST report]. The six remaining defendants are all former Hussein regime officials and were originally charged with the late dictator in connection with the deaths of some 180,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder] of the 1980s. On Thursday, al-Majid took the seat at the front of the dock previously occupied only by Hussein; Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, former deputy chief of operations in the armed forces, also joined al-Majid in the front row.

On Monday, the voices of Hussein and al-Majid were heard discussing the use of chemical weapons to kill thousands in audio tapes played in court [JURIST report]. Al-Majid said on the tapes that he would use chemical weapons to kill, and curses any criticism by the international community. Prosecutors also plan to introduce video tape evidence which they said also proves the defendant's involvement in massacring Kurds, but al-Majid denied involvement in executing Kurds [AP report] during Thursday's court session. Not guilty pleas [JURIST report] have been entered for all six defendants, who have denied [JURIST report] that chemical weapons were used on the Kurds. The Anfal trial has now been adjourned until January 23. AFP has more.

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