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Chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial demands presiding judge step down

Updated:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ The chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial demanded that the presiding judge step down, accusing him Wednesday of bias toward the deposed leader and his co-defendants.

``You allowed this court to become a political podium for the defendants,'' roared the prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, as judge Abdullah al-Amiri listened.

Saddam thundered Tuesday against ``agents of Iran and Zionism'' and vowed to ``crush your heads'' after listening to Kurdish witnesses tell of the horrors committed by the fallen regime two decades ago.

Al-Faroon alleged that al-Amiri was giving Saddam the time to make ``political'' statements that were irrelevant to the proceedings.

``For instance yesterday, instead of taking legal action (against Saddam), you asked his permission to talk,'' al-Faroon said. ``The action of the court leans toward the defendants.''

Al-Amiri did not directly answer the accusation, but recalled how one successor to the Prophet Muhammad was known for allowing the accused to voice their opinions.

One of the ``pillars of the judiciary is to treat everyone equally,'' al-Amiri said before ordering that the proceedings resume.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday after the court heard testimony from four more Anfal survivors, including a former Kurdish guerrilla, Omar Othman, who said he received medical treatment in Iran and Germany after suffering chemical burns during an attack in March 1988.

Witnesses have told the court about mass graves where the bodies of their relatives were found two decades after they went missing in Operation Anfal, a 1987-88 campaign to suppress a Kurdish revolt during the final stages of the Iraqi war with Iran. Saddam, one of seven defendants charged with genocide and other offenses in connection with the operation, accused the Kurds of helping Iran.

If convicted, Saddam and his co-defendants could face death by hanging.

The court heard more testimony Wednesday from survivors including a former Kurdish guerrilla, Omar Othman, who said he received medical treatment in Iran and Germany after suffering chemical burns during an attack in March 1988.

Another witness, Hama Ahmed, told of attacks by Iraqi Sukhoi jets that dropped chemical weapons on his village in February 1988.

``Iraqi forces ransacked our village and took our animals,'' he said. ``They took everything.''

One witness recalled his effort to survive a chemical attack allegedly carried out by Saddam's forces against the Kurdish population.

Earlier this week, Saddam accused the Kurdish witnesses of trying to sow ethnic division in Iraq by alleging chemical attacks and mass arrests in their villages during the crackdown, which the prosecution says claimed up to 180,000 lives.
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