BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial against the Kurds resumed Tuesday, a day after the ex-president predicted that insurgents would soon drive US-led forces out of Iraq.
Saddam and his six co-defendants were present when the court proceedings began, the first session for six days.
In an open letter to Iraqis that his lawyers released Monday, Saddam said Iraq’s “liberation is at hand”, an apparent attempt to cast himself as a statesman as Iraq teeters on the brink of civil war and the United States weighs what to do next.
Many Iraqis believe that the United States has decided to begin pulling out of Iraq, despite U.S. President George W. Bush’s denials.
“The hour of liberation is at hand, God willing. But remember that your near-term goal is confined to freeing your country from the forces of occupation and their followers, and not to be preoccupied in settling scores,” Saddam wrote in the Arabic-language letter, which he dictated to his lawyers on the weekend. The insurgency and sectarian killings claimed the life of the brother of the chief prosecutor in Saddam’s trial on Monday.
Imad al-Faroon was shot dead in front of his wife by gunmen who burst into his home. Al-Faroon is the brother of Munqith al-Faroon, the chief prosecutor in Saddam’s trial for crimes against Iraq’s Kurdish population in the 1980s.
Saddam and another defendant are charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four other co-defendants are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
All seven accused face the death penalty if they are convicted.