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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Iraq troops 'buried family alive'
Saddam Hussein in the dock on 25 September 2006 at his genocide trial
Saddam Hussein was ejected from the trial two weeks ago
A witness in the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has said her family was "buried alive" by government forces who attacked her village.

She gave evidence as the trial for alleged war crimes and genocide resumed in Baghdad after a two-week break.

It was suspended after Saddam Hussein was ejected for defying the judge's instructions to be quiet.

The seven defendants were present, but a key defence lawyer says his team will continue to boycott the trial.

The 31-year-old woman was 13 when her northern Kurdish village was raided.

Speaking from behind a curtain to conceal her identity, she said: "I know the fate of my family. They were buried alive."

I would like to ask Saddam a question: 'What was the guilt of women and children?
Kurdish witness

Identity cards belonging to five of her sisters were found in a mass grave in Samawa, south Iraq, the court heard.

"I would like to ask Saddam a question: 'What was the guilt of women and children?" she said through a translator.

The defence says the attacks were legitimate strikes against Kurds who were siding with Iranian forces.

'Women bound'

The woman described how the Iraqi army burned her village in April 1988.

She was arrested with eight members of her family and held in prison.

She said one prison guard "used to drag women, their hands and feet shackled, and leave them in a scorching sun for several hours."

More than 100,000 Kurds are said to have died during the so-called Anfal operation in 1988.

Another witness, farmer Abdul-Hadi Abdullah Mohammed, said his pregnant wife, mother, two brothers and two sisters, and four of their children had been missing since Iraqi forces destroyed his village in 1988.

He told the court that he had learnt his mother had died in Nugrat Salman after becoming ill.

Identity cards of one sister and a brother had been found in the mass graves in Samawa.

"The fate of my family is still unknown up to now," he told the court.

Both witnesses spoke of a black dog that dug up remains of prisoners and ate them.

The judge adjourned the case until 10 October.

Claims of bias

The previous session of the current trial ended in chaos after Saddam Hussein and co-defendant, Ali Hassan al-Majid, were ejected.

The remaining five defendants rose to their feet, shouting at the judge.

The defence team of lawyers was also absent.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the long break was clearly designed to calm things down and allow time for the defendants to consult their legal team.

The team met Saddam Hussein a week ago but leading defence counsel, Khalil al-Dulaimi, has said the defence will continue to boycott the trial.

The defence is protesting about the replacement of former chief judge, Abdullah al-Amiri, following accusations of bias towards the former president.

New Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa has been much tougher on the defendants.

During the recess, the new judge's brother-in-law was murdered by gunmen in Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein has already been tried for the killing of 148 Shias in Dujail in 1982 and a judgement is awaited.




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