BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – The Iraq tribunal Tuesday announced new criminal charges against Saddam Hussein and six others for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in 1980s crackdown against the Kurds, including the gassing of thousands of civilians in the village of Halabja.
Investigative judge Raid Juhi said the charges against Saddam and the others had been filed with another judge, who will review the evidence and order a trial date. The move is tantamount to an indictment under the Iraqi legal system.
The case involves Saddam’s role in Operation Anfal, a three-phase move against Kurds in northern Iraq in the late 1980s. Anfal included the March 16 gas attack against Halabja in which 5,000 people, including women and children died.
Human rights groups consider the Halabja attack one of the gravest atrocities allegedly committed by Saddam’s regime. “These people were subjected to forced displacement and illegal detentions of thousands of civilians,” Juhi said. “They were placed in different detentions centers. The villages were destroyed and burned. Homes and houses of worshippers and buildings of civilians were leveled without reason or a military requirement.” Others accused in the Anfal case include Saddam’s cousin, Ali Hassan Majid, or “Chemical Ali,” and former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad.
Saddam and seven others have been on trial since Oct. 19 in a separate case, the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims following a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail. Iraqi authorities chose to try Saddam separately for various alleged crimes rather than lump all the cases into one proceeding.
The Dujail trial was the first of what Iraqi authorities say could be up to a dozen proceedings. Saddam could face death by hanging of convicted in the Dujail case. It is unclear whether the sentence would be carried out while other trials were in progress.