- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities charged Saddam Hussein with genocide yesterday, accusing him of trying to exterminate the Kurds in a 1980s campaign that killed an estimated 100,000 — the first move to prosecute him for the human rights violations that the U.S. cited to justify its invasion.

The former Iraqi president returns to court today in his current six-month-old trial, facing the death sentence if convicted in the killings of more than 140 Shi’ites.

But that case involves a relatively small number of victims, and the scope of the accusation pales in comparison to the crackdown against the Kurds or the suppression of the Shi’ite uprising in southern Iraq in 1991.

Investigative judge Raid Juhi told reporters that he submitted the new case against Saddam and six co-defendants to the Iraqi High Tribunal — a legal step that is the equivalent of an indictment under Iraqi law.

His move paves the way for a second trial, which could begin any time after 45 days. Mr. Juhi said charges also include crimes against humanity.

Legal analysts said the decision to accuse Saddam of genocide has been questioned because the charge is difficult to prove. An international convention after the Nazi Holocaust during World War II defined genocide as an effort “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

The latest charges involve Saddam’s reported role in Operation Anfal, the 1988 military campaign launched in the final months of the war with Iran to crush independence-minded Kurdish militias and clear Kurds from the sensitive Iranian border area of northern Iraq.

Saddam had accused Kurdish militias of ties to Iran. Thousands of Kurdish villages were razed, and their inhabitants either killed or displaced.

A memo released by the tribunal said the Anfal campaign included “savage military attacks on civilians,” including “the use of mustard gas and nerve agents … to kill and maim rural villagers and to drive them out of their homes.”

The operations against the Kurds included the March 1988 gas attack on the village of Halabja in which 5,000 people, including women and children, died. However, Mr. Juhi said that the Halabja attack would be prosecuted separately and was not considered part of the charges filed yesterday.

Others accused in the Anfal case include Saddam’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, or “Chemical Ali”; former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad; former intelligence chief Sabir Abdul Aziz Al-Douri; former Republican Guard commander Hussein al-Tikriti; former Nineveh provincial Gov. Taher Tafwiq al-Ani; and former top military commander Farhan Mutlaq al-Jubouri.

Saddam and seven others have been on trial since Oct. 19 on charges in the deaths of Shi’ite Muslimsafter a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail.

The Dujail trial was the first of what Iraqi authorities say could be up to a dozen proceedings. Saddam could face death by hanging if convicted in the Dujail case. But President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said he doubted any sentence would be carried out until all trials were complete — a process likely to take years.

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