Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Torture and murder by Saddam's regime

From what I have read, it appears that prosecutors are concentrating on crimes committed by the regime after the 1991 war in Kuwait.  Many Iraqis were tortured and murdered before 1991.  I was not in Iraq in 1991, but I have read reports that claim that 100,000 Iraqis were murdered by the regime during the 1991 uprising. 

Saddam aides accused of torture
A Shia woman from Baghdad holds a photo of her son, who was killed in the 1991 Shia uprising (21 August 2007)
The 1991 Shia uprising was swiftly crushed by government forces
An Iraqi ex-MP testifying at the trial of 15 aides of Saddam Hussein accused of crimes against humanity has said he was falsely imprisoned for months.

Kamil Abu al-Hail said he had been held at a prison in Baghdad where hundreds were beaten and tortured daily.

The defendants, including the cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, are alleged to have helped suppress a Shia uprising after the 1991 Gulf War.

Tens of thousands are thought to have died in the short-lived rebellion.

In recent years, mass graves containing hundreds of bodies have been uncovered.

'Soaked with blood'

Mr Abu al-Hail was the third witness to testify against the 15 former senior military and Baath Party figures who are accused of engaging in widespread or systematic attacks against Iraq's civilian population.

Ali Hassan al-Majid
Sultan Hashim al-Tai
Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti
Abd Hamid Mahmoud al-Nasseri
Ibrahim Abdul Sattar al-Dahan
Walid Hamid Tawfik al-Nasseri
Iyad Fatiya al-Rawi
Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan
Abdul Ghafour Fulayih al-Ani
Ayad Taha Shihab al-Douri
Latif Maal Hamoud al-Sabawi
Qais Abdul Razzaq al-Adhami
Sabir Abdul Aziz al-Douri
Saadi Tuma Abbas al-Jabouri
Sufyan Maher al-Ghairiri

The 76-year-old former Shia MP said he had been arrested after arriving in Baghdad to attend a parliamentary session in the aftermath of the uprising and taken to the nearby al-Radwaniya prison.

He told the court that Iraqi soldiers used to bring hundreds of people every day to the jail for interrogation and punishment.

"I heard screams of pain as prisoners were beaten and tortured," he said.

"At the end of the day, I could see people being carried out on blankets soaked with blood. They could not walk because of the harsh torture."

Mr Abu al-Hail said he was imprisoned even though he had not participated in the uprising. He was released several months later after receiving a presidential pardon, but said his life was destroyed.

"I was dismissed from the parliament. My cotton factory and my house were destroyed by the shelling from the army," he added.

'Ugliest crime'

In his opening statement at the start of the trial on Tuesday, the chief prosecutor accused the defendants of "one of the ugliest crimes ever committed against humanity in modern history".

The Shaaban Intifada (Uprising) started in March 1991 as defeated Iraqi troops fled back to southern Iraq after US-led forces took control of Kuwait.

Galvanised by a message by US President George Bush to "take matters into their own hands", Iraqi Shia rose in revolt in an attempt to topple Saddam Hussein.

But despite briefly seizing control of 14 of the country's provinces, opposition forces were swiftly crushed and mass reprisals followed.

Many Shia blame the US for the uprising's failure, as it came to a ceasefire agreement with the Iraqi government and did not intervene.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, who directed Baghdad's response to the rebellion, and two more of the defendants, Sultan Hashim al-Tai and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, have already been sentenced to death following an earlier trial for genocide against Iraq's Kurdish population.

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