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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Timeline: Anfal trial
Six co-defendants of Saddam Hussein are on trial for mass killings in the so-called "Anfal Campaign" of 1987-88. Human Rights Watch says at least 100,000 Kurds, mainly civilians, died in the operation.

Saddam Hussein had also been on trial but was executed on 30 December after an earlier trial over the killing of Shias in the town of Dujail.

Here is an account of the Anfal trial, summarising the key evidence and events.

SUNDAY 24 JUNE 2007

Summary: Verdicts and sentences for all six remaining defendants are delivered. Ali Hassan al-Majid is sentenced to hang along with Sultan Hashim Ahmed and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti. Farhan al-Jibouri and Saber Abdul Aziz are sentenced to life in prison. All charges are dropped for lack of evidence against Taher Muhammad al-Ani.

SUNDAY 10 JUNE 2007

Summary: In the final session of the trial, which lasts only a few minutes, Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa says verdicts against all six defendants will be delivered on 24 June 24.

MONDAY 8 JANUARY

Summary: The trial resumes after a 21-day recess. One of the court's first actions is to drop all charges against the late former Iraqi leader.

WEDNESDAY 6 DECEMBER 2006

Summary: Saddam Hussein appears in court smiling, despite having threatened to boycott his trial the previous day.

Evidence: A Kurdish medical worker describes treating victims of gas attacks by Saddam Hussein's military in 1987.

TUESDAY 5 DECEMBER

Summary: Saddam Hussein asks the court to excuse him from attending the rest of his trial, which he describes as a farce. He submits a handwritten letter accusing the chief judge and prosecutors of insulting him.

"I wasn't given the chance to speak when I tried to clarify the truth by raising my hand three times," he writes. The trial is adjourned.

MONDAY 4 DECEMBER

Summary: The judge agrees to a prosecution request to conclude hearing evidence from state witnesses after about 70 have appeared.

The prosecution is likely to focus now on documents allegedly linking the defendants to the killings.

Evidence: The penultimate witness, Kurdish chemistry teacher Abdel Qader Abdullah, gives evidence of how he lost 22 relatives in a gas attack.

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER

Summary: US forensic experts continue to give evidence of mass graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in 1988. The chief judge also ejects one of Saddam Hussein's defence lawyers for "insulting the court".

Evidence: Forensic archaeologist Douglas Scott said cartridge cases and bullets found among bodies in a mass grave in the Kurdish village of Koreme showed evidence of "firing-squad type organisation".

He said at least seven gunmen had fired 124 rounds from Kalashnikov assault rifles at the victims.

Another expert witness, US physician Asfandiar Shukri, said examinations of Kurdish refugees near the Turkish border suggested mustard gas had been used on them in 1988.

"This mustard gas was similar to what was used by the Nazis in the Second World War," he said.

At one stage in the trial, Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa ordered defence lawyer Badie Aref out of the court for calling the prosecutor "brother".

TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER

Summary: A US forensic scientist gives evidence of mass graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in 1988. Dr Clyde Snow is the first expert witness presented by the prosecution.

Evidence: The court heard how Dr Snow travelled to the northern Iraqi town of Koreme in 1992 as part of a team of physicians.

He told the court that 27 men and boys were killed by Iraqi forces there, presenting a slideshow of the bodies he and his colleagues had exhumed.

The photographs showed skeletons laying in the earth, some with prayer beads or traditional Kurdish belts around them, detailing more than 80 gunshot wounds to the bodies.

A judge rejected complaints by Saddam Hussein that Dr Snow should not be allowed to testify because he was American and therefore biased. Saddam Hussein also suggested the bodies may have been moved to the grave from separate locations.

MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER

Summary: The trial resumes with testimony from a Kurdish survivor of a firing squad, as a defence lawyer claims a foreigner has given him a list of witnesses he should call.

Evidence: The court heard accounts from Kurdish survivors of the Anfal operation.

The first witness of the day, Taimor Abdallah Rokhza, described how Kurdish villagers were killed.

"There was a trench there and we were lined up and a soldier was shooting at us," the French news agency AFP quoted him as saying.

Defence lawyer Bedia Araf, meanwhile, said either an American or Canadian had come to his home and given him a list of 30 names to call as witnesses.

He said the foreigner claimed to have the power to get his client released or convicted.

In angry exchanges, the judge expressed impatience that the defence was being slow to provide lists of their proposed witnesses.

TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER

Summary: The trial resumed two days after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death in the Dujail trial. Saddam Hussein was unusually subdued and made an appeal for Iraqi unity.

"I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," he said in court.

Evidence: The court heard from several Kurdish witnesses of the Anfal campaign from the same village. They described how dozens of men were rounded up by Iraqi soldiers and shot after being promised an amnesty.

"They led us out of the village, separated men from the women and children. A total of 37 men were separated, including myself," Qahar Khalil Mohammed said.

He said they were then lined up and shot.

He survived despite several wounds, but 33 other people from his village died, Mr Mohammad said.

Saddam Hussein discounted the testimony, saying it could not be verified.

A second witness, Abdul Karim Nayif, gave a similar account of events.

He showed the court a video film which apparently showed human remains from a mass grave found in the area.

TUESDAY 31 OCTOBER

Summary: Five Kurdish witnesses added their testimony to the evidence pointing to the mass slaughter of Kurdish civilians by Saddam Hussein's troops in the 1980s.

The trial was adjourned until 7 November, by which time the verdict from the first trial should be known

Evidence: One Kurdish witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain, said he was one of dozens of prisoners who were taken in buses to an execution site in western Iraq in April 1988.

"The guards took two prisoners at a time from the bus, shot them dead and dragged their bodies to a huge ditch," he said.

He described being blindfolded and handcuffed and told to lie down on the ground before guards sprayed him with bullets.

"We were pulled away by our legs. I pretended I was dead," he said.

Another witness, 46-year-old housewife Bafrin Fattah Ahmed, claimed she was blinded by poison gas and lost touch with her son and husband after warplanes attacked their village.

MONDAY 30 OCTOBER

Summary: The trial resumed after a break for Ramadan with a heated exchange between the judge and Saddam Hussein's chief defence lawyer who stormed out of court claiming the trial could not be fair.

New defence lawyers were appointed and Kurdish witnesses were heard, giving testimony of their experiences during the alleged chemical bomb attacks of 1987 and 1988.

Evidence: Kurdish witness Jamal Sulaiman Qadir described coming into his village on the day of the attacks, which he compared to "Doomsday".

He recalled how children were among the bodies piled up in the village, "still clutching lollipops or Eid sweets because it was the last day of Ramadan."

Another witness, Fakhir Ali Hussein, described "a smell in the village like rotten apples" after bombs were dropped.

He presented the court with a list of 35 people who were allegedly killed during the attack on his village and others nearby.

THURSDAY 19 OCTOBER

Summary: A Kurdish witness told the court about chemical weapon attacks in northern Iraq in 1998.

The trial was then adjourned until the end of the month.

Evidence: Kurdish witness Abdullah Saeed described how government forces bombed Kurdish villages with chemical weapons in April 1998.

Mr Saeed recalled that Saddam Hussein's forces bombed two other villages, causing clouds of smoke to drift towards his home.

"We loaded children, women and other persons infected with chemical weapons onto three trucks and fled to another village," he said.

The lorries were later stopped by Saddam Hussein's troops who arrested the passengers and took them to a detention facility in southern Iraq. Mr Saeed and another witness said hundreds died of malnutrition and disease in the facility.

WEDNESDAY 18 OCTOBER

Summary: A Kurdish witness, speaking behind a screen, gave evidence to the court describing the rounding up and killing of Kurds in the desert in 1998.

Defence lawyers had been boycotting the trial after the sacking of the previous presiding judge for alleged bias towards Saddam Hussein.

Wednesday's session began without them, although it had been reported the lawyers had ended their protest.

Evidence: A Kurdish witness told the court how he saw Saddam Hussein's troops drive Kurdish prisoners into the desert and executed them, burying the bodies in mass graves.

He described the desert as "full of mounds that all had people buried underneath".

TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER

Summary: Several prosecution witnesses - all Kurds - testified about the alleged atrocities in 1988. Saddam Hussein accused the witnesses of fuelling division among Iraqis for the benefit of "the Zionists".

Evidence: Witnesses described how they and thousands of fellow Kurds had been rounded up by Saddam Hussein's troops and taken to a prison camp where hundreds later died. One witness said 33 of his relatives had disappeared after the Anfal offensive.

Saddam Hussein said the witnesses' testimony was sowing further ethnic and sectarian division in Iraq.

In another development, the defence lawyers appeared to have ended their month-long boycott.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday 18 October.

WEDNESDAY 11 OCTOBER

Summary: Saddam Hussein criticised Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa for switching off his microphone the day before, saying he was not being allowed to defend himself.

But Judge Khalifa said his actions were needed to bring order to the court.

The case was adjourned to Tuesday 17 October, after hearing three Kurdish witnesses.

TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER

Summary: Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa expelled Saddam Hussein from court after he shouted out a verse from the Koran.

It was the fourth time in recent weeks that the former dictator had been ejected from his Baghdad trial. Co-defendant Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti was also ejected - he punched a bailiff who had tried to force him back into his seat.

Evidence: Before the disruption took place, the court did hear from a Kurdish woman who gave evidence from behind a curtain about her time in prison camps run by the former regime.

She said that men wearing chemical suits and masks sprayed the camp's detainees with a material "that caused the spread of lice and other diseases, like bronchial coughing" which led to the death of a number of children.

The witness also testified that pregnant women were treated inhumanely and that one woman had given birth in a toilet, the umbilical cord having to be cut with a broken bottle.

MONDAY 9 OCTOBER

Summary: The trial resumed after a two-week suspension. The seven defendants were present, but a key defence lawyer says his team will continue to boycott the trial. The court heard from Kurdish witnesses.

Evidence: One woman, 31, said she was 13 when she and eight members of her family were arrested by Iraqi troops during a raid on her northern Iraqi village. She said she knew relatives had been "buried alive" by the troops.

Identity cards of five of her sisters were found in a mass grave in Samawa, southern Iraq.

Another witness said he had not seen his pregnant wife, mother, two brothers, two sisters and four of their children since a raid on his village in 1988.

TUESDAY 26 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Saddam Hussein was removed from the court for the third time in the space of a week after repeatedly refusing to be quiet.

Before ejecting the defendant, Chief Judge Muhammad al-Khalifa gave him a stern warning about his behaviour.

"You can defend yourself, question witnesses ... and I am ready to allow you, but this is a court, not a political arena," he said.

The former Iraqi leader read out a long statement from a piece of paper, but microphones were turned off.

MONDAY 25 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Saddam Hussein was again removed from the court after demanding to be released from his cage-like witness box.

Chief Judge Muhammad al-Khalifa said that he needed to show more respect for the court. "I'm the presiding judge. I decide about your presence here. Get him out!" he said.

The former Iraqi president's defence lawyers continued to boycott the hearing in protest at the removal of the previous chief judge, whom the Iraqi government had accused of bias.

Evidence: Witness Mohammed Rasul Mustafa described how he witnessed the bombing of a nearby village and smelled a strange odour which gave him breathing difficulties.

He said he was later imprisoned for five months and saw a man killed by guards with a steel cable.

Rifat Mohammed Said said he was held at the same Nugrat Salman prison camp, where children were dying of starvation and a guard called Hajaj tortured and raped detainees.

WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Saddam Hussein was ordered out of court after refusing to recognise Chief Judge Mohammad al-Khalifa, who was installed after the previous judge was accused of bias.

Saddam Hussein refused to sit down and was ordered out of court by Mr Khalifa, a Shia Arab who had previously served as deputy chief judge.

The former leader's lawyers walked out in protest at the removal, and vowed not to return until the government stopped "interfering" in the trial.

Human Rights Watch criticised the Iraqi government's role in the removal of former chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri, who was replaced the previous day following accusations of bias towards the former president.

A request to remove Mr Amiri had been a "blatant violation" of the independence of the court, the organisation said.

TUESDAY 19 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri was replaced following accusations of bias from the Iraqi government.

A cabinet spokesman said the Iraqi cabinet had requested his removal because Mr Amiri had "lost his neutrality".

Trial prosecutors had accused Mr Amiri of favouring the former Iraqi president, and during the previous week's hearings he had claimed that Saddam Hussein was "not a dictator".

Evidence: Iskandar Mahmoud Abdul Rahman described a chemical weapons attack on his village in 1988.

"We took the floor; white smoke covered us, it smelled awful. My heartbeat increased. I started to vomit. I felt dizzy. My eyes burned and I couldn't stand on my feet," Mr Abdul Rahman said.

He removed his shirt in the presence of court reporters to show several dark scars on his back where he said Iranian surgeons had cut off burned skin.

THURSDAY 14 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri said that Saddam Hussein was not a dictator, a day after facing criticism that he was biased towards the former Iraqi president.

He said the former leader had only looked like a dictator because of the people who surrounded him.

The comment occurred after the former president questioned a Kurdish witness who had described a 1989 meeting with him to ask about the fate of jailed family members.

"Why did you try to meet me when you knew I was a dictator?" Saddam Hussein asked.

"You were not a dictator. People around you made you [look like] a dictator," Mr Amiri interjected.

Evidence: Abdullah Mohammed Hussain said that he appealed to Saddam Hussein after his family were arrested during the Anfal campaign.

He said the former president had replied: "Shut up. Your family is gone in the Anfal."

The bodies of some of his relatives were discovered in a mass grave only two years ago, he said.

WEDNESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER

Summary: Chief prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon called for Judge Abdullah al-Amiri to stand down, saying he was biased towards the former Iraqi leader.

He added that defendants had been given too much room to threaten witnesses and make political speeches.

The judge rejected the request, saying his approach was based on fairness and 25 years' experience

Evidence: Kurdish witness Majeed Amad said his village, Sargalow, had been bombed for 20 days, forcing residents to flee to Iran.

"When the villagers returned to Iraq they surrendered to the Iraqi army and were sent to prison," he said. "We have not heard from them since then."

Another witness, Omar Othman Muhammad, testified that military aircraft had dropped balloons, apparently containing chemical weapons, followed by missiles.

TUESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER

Summary: The court heard testimony from three Kurdish men who described losing members of their family during the Anfal campaign.

One man, Ghafour Hassan Abdullah, said he only learned of the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters 15 years later when their identity cards were found in a mass grave.

He also mocked the former Iraqi leader, saying: "Congratulations Saddam Hussein. You are now in a cage!"

Saddam Hussein lost his temper when one lawyer described the Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas as freedom fighters, saying a rebellion in any country would be dealt with by its army.

He also demanded that any evidence found in mass graves be examined by "neutral countries like Switzerland".

At one point, he verbally attacked the court, saying: "You are agents of Iran and Zionism. We will crush your heads."

MONDAY 11 SEPTEMBER

Summary: The trial restarted after a three-week recess with more Kurdish witnesses describing their experiences of the gas attacks.

Saddam Hussein told the court he was never opposed to the Kurds, and said that key parts of his army were Kurdish.

He also criticised present Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani for provoking a national debate over the Iraqi flag by saying it should not be raised over government buildings in the Kurdish region. "We inherited it, I did not establish it," he said.

Evidence: US-based Dr Katrin Elias, who was a former guerrilla fighter with the Kurdish resistance, described how she witnessed a chemical bomb attack in June 1987.

She said planes had dropped bombs that exploded more softly than usual, causing people to vomit afterwards and leaving some blinded for several weeks.

Smartly dressed in a suit, she launched an attack on "all the international organisations or companies which provided the Iraqi regime with these weapons".

Other Kurdish civilians testified that they were moved from their homes, arrested, tortured and saw family members killed.

WEDNESDAY 23 AUGUST

Summary: The trial heard more testimony from Kurdish witnesses about the poison gas attacks in the late 1980s. It is then adjourned until 11 September.

Evidence: Adiba Oula Bayez, married to an earlier witness Ali Mustapha Hama, said warplanes dropped bombs on her village, Balisan, on 16 April 1987, spreading smoke that smelled "like rotten apples".

She said they realised the smoke was poisonous and chemical when her whole family began to feel unwell and was blinded for days by the attack.

"On the fifth day, I slightly opened my eyes. And it was a terrible scene. My children and my skin had turned black," she told the court.

She said one of her children had died and that she later suffered two miscarriages.

Another Balisan resident, Badriya Said Khider, told the court that nine of her relatives were killed in the attack, including her parents, husband and son, and that she still suffered the after-effects.

Former Kurdish peshmerga fighter Moussa Abdullah Moussa described witnessing several attacks in 1987 and 1988 - including finding his dead brother and his son, still hugging each other.

TUESDAY 22 AUGUST

Summary: The court heard from the first two prosecution witnesses, who described chemical weapons attacks which they said were carried out on their villages.

Both witnesses spoke in Kurdish and said foul-smelling smoke blinded people and made them vomit. One witness said he saw many people die.

Two of the defendants, top-ranking Iraqi officials at the time, said the Anfal campaign targeted Iranian troops and Kurdish guerrillas supporting them.

One of the defendants, Sultan Hashim Ahmed, commander of Anfal and a former defence minister, said civilians were moved safely to other areas before the campaign.

MONDAY 21 AUGUST

Summary: Saddam Hussein refuses to enter a plea and, as in the Dujail trial, he challenges the court's legitimacy.

The chief judge enters pleas of not guilty for both the former Iraqi leader and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who also refuses to plead.

The judge also rejects a petition by the defence counsel that the court is illegal.

The prosecution begins setting out its case, saying 182,000 people lost their lives during what was known as Operation Anfal, meaning "spoils of war".

The trial's chief prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, says entire villages were razed, troops repeatedly used poison gas, and the elderly, women and children were subjected to terrible conditions in detention camps.

"It is difficult to fathom the barbarity of such acts," he says.

Saddam Hussein angrily rejects the prosecutor's claim that women were raped while in detention.

"I can never accept the claim that an Iraqi woman was raped while Saddam was president," he declares.




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