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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Trial dividing Iraq, says Saddam
Saddam Hussein in court
The former leader has been ejected from court several times
Saddam Hussein has accused prosecution witnesses at his trial for genocide against the Kurds of fuelling division and hatred among Iraqis.

The ousted president said: "The Zionists are the only ones who will benefit from differences among Iraqis."

He was addressing the court after several Kurds testified about atrocities allegedly committed by government forces in 1988.

Prosecutors say some 180,000 people died during the Anfal offensive.

"We are one people as Iraqis and no-one can doubt that in this place," Saddam Hussein said during Tuesday's court session.

I demand Saddam tell me about the fate of the 33 of my relatives who were 'Anfalised'
Mutalib Mohammed Salman
Prosecution witness

He said the testimony by the Kurd prosecution witnesses would "only serve the separation" in Iraq, referring to the growing sectarian and ethnic violence that has already claimed thousands of lives.

Saddam Hussein's comments echoed his open letter to Iraqis on Monday in which he blamed foreign forces for sowing divisions among Iraqis.

In the letter, the former president also predicted Iraq's "liberation" from US military control.

'Anfalised'

Earlier on Tuesday, several elderly Kurdish peasants gave evidence about the Anfal campaign.

Prosecution witness Omar Hassan Omar in court
Omar Hassan Omar said hundreds of people had died in a prison camp

Mutalib Mohammed Salman, 78, said he and others from his village in northern Iraq had been rounded up and taken to a prison camp in central Iraq.

He said conditions in the prison had been so bad that hundreds of people had died there.

Mr Salman also said that his wife and many relatives had disappeared after the offensive.

"I demand Saddam tell me about the fate of my relatives, the 33 of my relatives who were 'Anfalised'," he said.

Another witness, Omar Hassan Omar, 71, said he had been arrested and sent with thousands of fellow Kurds to a prison camp where hundreds later died.

He said his family had disappeared after an attack on his village by Iraqi troops.

In another development on Tuesday, the presiding judge agreed to a request by defence counsel to allow their lawyer back in court.

The defence lawyers have been boycotting the trial after the sacking of the previous presiding judge for alleged bias towards Saddam Hussein several weeks ago.

The trial was later adjourned until Wednesday.

Dujail verdict expected

Saddam Hussein and his six co-defendants insist the Anfal operation was a legitimate measure against separatists.

The former Iraqi leader and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, are charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Anfal campaign.

Four others are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. All seven could face the death penalty.

In a separate trial, Saddam Hussein and seven other co-defendants are awaiting a verdict concerning the deaths and torture of Shia Muslims during a crackdown in the village of Dujail in 1980s.

A verdict in this trial is expected next month.


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