BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Saddam Hussein turned up at his genocide trial on Wednesday, despite writing earlier to the chief judge and telling him he would no longer attend court sessions in protest at being repeated silenced from speaking.
Saddam and six others are on trial for the Anfal — Spoils of War — military campaign against ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s in which prosecutors say up to 180,000 people were killed in poison gas attacks and mass executions.
In a letter handed to a defence team lawyer who saw him on Monday, the former Iraqi leader said he had been denied “clarifying the truth” over his role in Anfal, which the defence argues was a legitimate operation against Kurdish rebels siding with Iraq’s Iranian foe.
Saddam, who is awaiting an appeal against a death sentence from a separate case, was furious when the judge refused to give him an opportunity to refute prosecution allegations he swindled $10 billion of state assets. “So I tell you I cannot take these continued insults from you and others … and I ask you to relieve me from attending the sessions of this new farce and you can do whatever you want,” Saddam said in the letter released by his lawyers.
But a smiling Saddam arrived in the courtroom on Wednesday morning to hear a former doctor at a Kurdish rebel hospital testify how he had treated victims of the poison gas attacks.