Saddam Hussein co-defendant alleges Iranian role in Kurdish revolt


Wednesday, November 8th 2006, 1:04 pm
By: News On 6


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A co-defendant in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial accused Iraqi Kurds on Wednesday of spying for the Iranians at the time of the government crackdown on the Kurdish population.

Former military intelligence chief Sabir al-Douri made the accusation after listening to Kurdish witnesses testify about chemical attacks against their villages in northern Dahuk province in August 1988.

Saddam, al-Douri and five other former members of Saddam's regime have pleaded innocent to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the military offensive against the Kurds, known as Operation Anfal. The prosecution says about 180,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the 1987-88 crackdown. Saddam and one other defendant are also charged with genocide.

Al-Douri told the court the Iranians, who fought an eight-year war with Iraq starting in 1980, had asked Kurdish guerrillas to provide intelligence about a prison camp near Mosul and about the homes of two senior Iraqi commanders in the north.

``The (Kurdish) rebels and the Iranians were working together there,'' he said.

The presiding judge did not respond to the remark.

The trial adjourned until Nov. 27 to give time for the defense to assemble its list of witnesses. But court spokesman Raed Juhi said the prosecution still had more witnesses to call.

If convicted, Saddam and his co-defendants could be sentenced to death.

Saddam is already under a death sentence imposed by another court Sunday for the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims after an assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail in 1982.

His trial for the Kurdish crackdown will continue while an appeals court reviews the Dujail case.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was quoted as telling the British Broadcasting Corp. that if an appeals panel upholds the Dujail sentence, Saddam could be executed before the end of the year.

With the likelihood of his execution increasing, Saddam rose in the dock Tuesday and called on all Iraqis to ``forgive, reconcile and shake hands.''

On Wednesday, witness Ayoub Abdellah Mohammed said his village was attacked with chemical weapons on Aug. 24, 1988 _ four days after a cease-fire in the war with Iran.

``After this, we had difficulty breathing and I told the villagers that the village was hit by chemical weapons,'' he said. ``I could see birds falling and liquids coming out of people's noses.''

Another witness, Tawfeeq Abdul-Aziz Mustafa, said he and other villagers fled to Turkey after a chemical attack on their community and remained there until a Kurdish self-ruled area was established in northern Iraq in 1991.

``We looked at the villages and there was yellow smoke coming out,'' he said. ``Our eyes became red, itchy and teary. We knew it was a chemical attack.''

Mustafa said his uncle died in Turkey from the effects of the attack, and he lost about 40 percent of his vision because of exposure to the chemical weapons.

The session opened with a demand from defense lawyer Badee Izzat Aref for the court to order an investigation into the alleged ransacking of the defense team's office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone last month.

Aref said intruders damaged and stole dozens of documents, undermining the defense's effort in the trial. Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa ordered the prosecution to give a new set of documents to the defense.

``I demand the opening of an investigation on the American side because the area of the offices is guarded by the Americans, who would shoot anybody who comes near,'' Aref said.

It was the first time that Aref appeared in the court since Sept. 21, when the defense team announced a boycott of the trial to protest the court's rejection of many of their motions.