First witnesses testify against Saddam in genocide trial
The second day of proceedings against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on charges of genocide began on Tuesday with the trial's first witnesses arriving at Iraq's High Tribunal Headquarters in an armored bus.
Saddam and six other co-defendants are standing trial for alleged crimes against humanity and genocide committed against Iraq's Kurdish community in 1988 which left some 182,000 people dead, according to the AFP.
Saddam had previously stood trial on similar charges against the slaying of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail. He faces the death penalty for both cases if found guilty.
The chief prosecutor of the trial stated that some 65 to 75 survivors of the operation will testify in court, beginning on Tuesday. The trial's first witness, Ali Mustafa Hama, told the court on Tuesday that Saddam had dropped poison gas on his village.
"Birds were returning to their nests. I saw eight to 12 jets patrolling the sky. There was greenish smoke from the bombs. There was a smell of rotten apple or garlic," Hama said according to Reuters.
"People were vomiting ... We were blinded. We were screaming. There was no one to save us, only God," Hama recalled.
Hama did not conceal his identity when he faced Saddam in court, unlike witnesses in Saddam's previous trial who testified behind a curtain and spoke through voice distortion devices.
The trial's defense claims that the 1988 "Anfal campaign" for which they are standing trial was a legitimate action taken against Iraq's Kurdish community, who were reportedly aiding Iran in its war against Iraq.
One co-defendant, former military intelligence chief Sabir al- Douri told the court, "The Iranians and Kurds were fighting hand in hand against the Iraqi forces...Iran wanted to break through."
On Monday, 69-year old Saddam refused to tell the presiding judge his name, saying, "You know me," and refused to offer a plea in the case, claiming that the court was an illegitimate "occupation court." The Shiite judge entered a plea of "not guilty" on his behalf.