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Saddam urges Iraqis to unite, forgive each other

Saddam urges Iraqis to unite, forgive each other

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by Thibauld Malterre Middle East Online News

BAGHDAD – Ousted leader Saddam Hussein called on all Iraqis to unite and “forgive” each other as he appeared in court Tuesday to face genocide charges after being condemned to death in a separate trial.

“I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands,” Saddam said in the court after he questioned a witness who testified against him in an ongoing genocide trial.{{more}}

The former president, known for his temper and outbursts, was calm and composed in the dock, as four witnesses testified how his forces massacred relatives and fellow villagers in northern Iraq during the 1988 Anfal campaign.

On Sunday, Saddam was sentenced to death by hanging in a separate trial for ordering the killing of 148 Shiite villagers in the village of Dujail where he escaped an assassination attempt in 1982.

Prosecutors say the Anfal campaign was a genocidal massacre of 182,000 Kurdish civilians. Saddam and his alleged henchmen insist it was a legitimate counter-insurgency operation against separatists at a time of war with Iran.

Saddam and the six other defendants including his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali”, face the death penalty if convicted in the Anfal trial, which the judge adjourned until Wednesday.

But the former leader could go to the gallows within months over the Dujail killings even before the Kurdish case winds up. He and Majid are the only ones facing charges of genocide.