Doctor in Saddam's genocide trial says young shepherd died in attack on northern village

Wednesday, December 6th 2006, 6:09 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A Kurdish surgeon told Saddam Hussein's genocide trial that he treated people with severe burns, including a shepherd boy who died, after alleged chemical attacks by Saddam's regime in the late 1980s.

Two other witnesses testified that Saddam's forces rounded up Kurdish villagers at gunpoint and killed some of them after they failed to surrender to authorities.

Dr. Faiq Mohammed Ahmed Culpy said the boy, aged 8 or 9, was burned when he ``played with pieces of a bomb that had been dropped by an Iraqi aircraft on his village.''

Two days later, the boy died. Culpy said the April 1987 chemical attack was the first in a string of assaults by Iraqi forces against Kurds in northern Iraq.

The doctor said he witnessed or heard accounts of dozens of deaths in separate attacks that lasted through the spring of 1988 when he treated victims of chemical deaths in several northern villages. He said he traveled through the area with Kurdish guerrillas who were fighting Saddam's forces.

During cross-examination, one of Saddam's co-defendants, Sabri al-Douri, claimed that Iran launched the chemical attacks. ``America provided Iran with the chemical weapons,'' said al-Douri, the director of military intelligence under Saddam.

Two other witnesses _ Bakhtiar Hama Said Hama Rashid and Raouf Hussein Kaka Ahmed, both 34 _ recalled how Saddam's army fired on villagers in April 1988 in retaliation for rescuing fellow Kurds who they believed were being taken to be killed.

Rashid said at least four men were arrested and killed following the incident. ``They gathered them in a stadium, where they executed them in front of us,'' he said. ``They wanted to terrorize us into surrendering those whom we sheltered.''

``Soldiers shot at us, people were injured, we were confused,'' said Kaka Ahmed.

Saddam sat silently throughout the testimony.

The deposed Iraqi leader was at the trial despite his threat never to appear in court again. It was not clear whether he changed his mind or was forced to attend.

In a handwritten statement released by his lawyers Tuesday, Saddam cited what he claimed were repeated ``insults'' by prosecutors and Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa.

Saddam and six co-defendants have pleaded innocent to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the 1987-88 military campaign against Kurds in northern Iraq. Saddam and one other defendant have pleaded innocent to the additional charge of genocide. If convicted, all could be condemned to death.

The prosecution estimates 180,000 Kurds were killed when Saddam's army waged a scorched-earth campaign against Kurdish separatist guerrillas.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday to hear more prosecution witnesses.