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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Saddam to face genocide charges
Saddam Hussein
A trial date for the new charges has yet to be announced
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is to be charged with genocide over a 1980s campaign against the Kurds, an Iraqi tribunal has announced.

Saddam Hussein and six others face new charges over a campaign of killings, arrests, deportation and property destruction known as the Anfal.

Human rights groups say 180,000 civilians died in the campaign.

Saddam Hussein and seven others are already on trial for the deaths of 148 people in the town of Dujail.

The killings followed an attempt to assassinate the former Iraq leader.

The villages were destroyed and burned
Raid Juhi
Iraqi tribunal spokesman

Mahmoud Othman - an independent Kurdish member of the national parliament and former member of the Iraqi governing council - welcomed the announcement.

"The public reaction of our area in Kurdistan where these operations have happened is that they are very happy about it," he told the BBC News website.

"They were always criticising the government and court, asking why these big charges were not brought. They want these people to be punished."

Mass graves

The BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad says that the Anfal campaign against the Kurds is widely regarded as one of the greatest crimes of Saddam Hussein's former regime.

ANFAL CAMPAIGN
Dead bodies at Halabja
Anfal, Arabic for "spoils of war"
Ran from 1987 to 1989
180,000 civilian victims
Headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's cousin

The gassing of Halabja, in which 5,000 Kurds died, is considered part of the Anfal campaign by human rights groups.

However, the tribunal spokesman Raid Juhi said the Halabja killings would be tried separately.

"These people [the victims of the Anfal] were subjected to forced displacement and illegal detentions of thousands of civilians," Mr Juhi said.

"They were placed in different detention centres. The villages were destroyed and burned. Homes and houses of worshippers and buildings of civilians were levelled without reason or a military requirement."

The tribunal's decision to bring charges comes after investigators went through thousands of documents and eye-witness testimonies and uncovered mass graves, our correspondent says.

Saddam Hussein's co-accused include his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali for his role in the poison gas attack on Halabja in 1988.

The others facing charges are former Defence Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed and high ranking Baathists Saber Abdul Aziz, Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, Taher Muhammad al-Ani and Farhan al-Jibouri.

Mr Juhi said the charges against the former president and his co-accused had been filed with a judge, who will review the evidence and order a trial date.

Correspondents say it is not clear whether the trial will run in parallel to the Dujail trial or after it.

The announcement comes a day before the Dujail trial - over the killing of Shias in 1982 - is set to resume.


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