Skip to comments.Witnesses testify of Saddam atrocities
Posted on 09/18/2006 10:30:17 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A former Kurdish rebel testified Monday he temporarily lost his sight in a chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein's forces nearly two decades ago. He removed his glasses so the court could see his swollen eyes.
Karawan Abdellah said he still lives in "pain and suffering" from the March 1988 attack, when Iraqi warplanes raided Kurdish guerrilla positions in the village of Shanakhesiya in northern Iraq.
After the initial airstrike, Iraq fired chemical weapons on the village, Abdellah said.
"I stayed in a hospital for six months and during this period I wasn't able to see at all," he testified. "When I take off my glasses in front of my children, they tell me to wear them again because they get scared of the way my eyes look."
Abdellah removed his glasses and declared: "I want the cameras to show my eyes," which appeared swollen with grayish pupils.
Saddam and six co-defendants are being tried on charges of committing atrocities against Kurds during the Operation Anfal crackdown in northern Iraq.
The prosecution alleges some 180,000 people died in the campaign, many of them killed by poison gas. Saddam and the others could face death by hanging if convicted.
During his testimony, Abdellah said that after the attack, he saw "bodies of dead women, children and elderly men" who had been "killed by chemical weapons."
Although he took an antidote, he felt body "pains" and his skin was irritated, he said.
"I also vomited and my eyes turned reddish gradually and became watery," Abdellah said, speaking in Kurdish through an Arabic translator.
He said he later received treatment in Iran and in the Netherlands, where he was granted Dutch citizenship in 1994.
"Until now, I have sensitivity to strong light and itches on my skin," he said, presenting affidavits from Iranian and Dutch hospitals affirming that he had suffered chemical injuries.
Abdellah said he won a lawsuit against a Dutch trader who allegedly sold chemical weapons to Iraq. He did not give other details but said the suit was filed in The Hague.
Saddam challenged the testimony, arguing that Abdellah was a Dutch citizen and not an Iraqi because Iraqi law bars dual nationality.
"I leave it up to the court to decide, but this man isn't Iraqi," Saddam said.
Saddam also accused the United States of using chemical weapons in the Vietnam War. But the chief judge told him the U.S. role in Vietnam was not "part of our topic of discussion" and "please stop."
The judge cut off Saddam's microphone when he ignored orders to stop talking about how the Kurds were allied with Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Saddam's cousin and fellow defendant, Ali al-Majid, who led the Anfal operation and was nicknamed "Chemical Ali," argued that Iran, not Iraq, used chemicals against the Kurds.
Last week, the prosecution chided chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri for allegedly being too lenient with the accused. Al-Amiri later told Saddam "you are not a dictator," a remark that offended many Kurds.
Before adjourning until Tuesday, the court heard from a second witness, Khunja Kaim Hassan, who testified that her husband went missing and her house was destroyed in the Anfal offensive.
She said she fled with her two sons and two in-laws after an attack on their village.
A defense lawyer challenged her testimony, saying her husband, Mahmoud Hassan, died in 1985 not in 1988 as the widow testified. The chief judge said the court would verify the date of her husband's death.
Saddam is still awaiting a verdict on Oct. 16 in the first case against him the 9-month-long trial over the killings of 148 Shiites in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against him there. He and seven co-defendants could face the death penalty in that case.
AP correspondents Sameer N. Yacoub reported from Baghdad and Jamal Halaby from Amman, Jordan.
MEGA SARCASM ALERT!
at least we are seeing daily wall-to-wall coverage by the MSM of the trial of this..uh..nevermind...
It made for a very compelling example of Saddam's treatment of prisoner as opposed to what went on at Abu Ghraib.
Where would public opinion on Iraq stand if each week the media covered one of the mass graves. There's about five years' worth of broadcasts. Where would public opinion on Iraq be if the media balanced each day's violence with a story about two or three reconstruction projects being completed?
The first trial involved a town where an attempt was made on Saddam's life and then a large number of people were rounded up. Perhaps not all of these people were given fair trials, but surely most countries, especially those ruled by dictators, deal pretty harshly with anyone who tries to kill their president as well as anyone who might have supported this action. That's how the dictator maintains control. Thus this case doesn't make Saddam seem any worse than many other non-democratic leaders.
In the case of the gassing of the Kurds, many American politicians and talking heads have decried how Saddam "gassed his own people". Of course this was a horrible action. But it was done in the context of the Iran-Iraq War. The Kurds had been helping the Iranians. Thus it might be said that this was an action against the enemy in a time of war. Saddam can use that as a defense. The gassing might be classified as a war crime, but this isn't supposed to be a trial of war crimes.
One would hope that the Saddam trials would highlight for Iraqis, and particularly the Sunnis, how Saddam did terrible things against all the people of Iraq. If the trials only make the Sunnis look back fondly at how Saddam maintained control over other ethnic groups, the prosecutors will have failed.
IIRC, it was a clip that MSNBC broadcast parts of. You might be able to find it on Ogrish (but not if you have a weak stomach...there are some VERY gruesome videos/images there).
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