Witnesses in Saddam trial recall Kurdish massacres

October 19, 2006 03:57

Two Kurdish witnesses at Saddam Hussein's genocide trial gave harrowing accounts of surviving killing fields where guards executed hundreds of detainees at a time in sprays of gunfire. One said Wednesday he fell wounded into a ditch full of bodies. He said he climbed out and ran for his life past mounds in the desert, the mass graves of other victims in a 1987-88 military offensive against Iraq's Kurds. Both witnesses described prisoners making their last prayers for God's forgiveness of their sins as they rode in trucks to the execution site - and said some detainees made desperate attempts to attack guards in hopes of escaping. The testimony came in the trial of Saddam and six other co-defendants for their roles in Operation Anfal, an offensive during which the prosecution says some 180,000 Kurds were killed and hundreds of their villages cleared. The seven face execution by hanging if convicted. Saddam sat silently as both Kurds testified from behind curtains to protect their identities. One co-defendant, his cousin Ali al-Majid, scoffed at their accounts.

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