Evidence Silences Saddam
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
BASRA, Iraq — Even Saddam Hussein was silenced yesterday when, on the first day of a new trial on charges of genocide against Iraq’s Kurds, the court saw a photograph of the skeleton of a baby clutching a milk bottle.
The body was found in a mass grave, lying beside its mother. The woman had clutched the child to her chest as she was killed, the prosecution said, and fell into a shallow grave with hundreds of other victims.
The prosecutor said all of the dead were among the 182,000 Kurds killed by troops loyal to Saddam’s Ba’ath Party in a military operation between 1987 and 1988. The systematic killing of Kurdish civilians to suppress a separatist uprising was the aim, the court was told.
“It is time for humanity to know the magnitude and scale of the crimes committed against the people of Kurdistan,” the lead prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, said as more photographs of dead women and children were displayed. “Entire villages were razed, as if killing the people was not enough. Wives waited for their husbands. Families waited for their children to return — but to no avail.”
The trial is the second in which Saddam faces charges of war crimes. The first, which focused on the death of 148 Shiites following an attempt to assassinate him in 1982, ended last month, and a verdict is expected in October.
Saddam is charged with genocide for attacking Iraq’s entire Kurdish minority. He is likely to be hanged if he is found guilty. The ex-president looked calm and confident when he entered the court.
Six co-defendants followed him. They were Saddam’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” because of his alleged use of chemical weapons during the Anfal campaign; Saddam’s director of military intelligence, Sabir al-Douri, who is accused of planning and executing the campaign; the field commander of Task Force Anfal, Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai; the former governor of Mosul and head of the Northern Affairs Committee, Taher Tawfiq al-Ani; the former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces and a member of Saddam’s Tikriti clan, Hussein Rashid Mohammed al-Tikriti, and a former head in Saddam’s feared military intelligence, Farhan Mutlaq Saleh.
All the defendants except Saddam pleaded not guilty. He refused to answer and challenged the court’s legitimacy in a familiar display of bravado.