Videotape showing executions and destruction of villages played in trial in Iraq

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February 12, 2007 Videotape showing executions and destruction of villages played in trial in Iraq Associated Press Writer - by SAMEER N. YACOUB

BAGHDAD, Iraq  - Prosecutors played a videotape Sunday depicting executions and the destruction of Kurdish villages in the trial of six defendants accused of crimes against humanity during a crackdown on Kurds in the 1980s.

The videotape was presented by the chief prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, to show the involvement of the Iraqi army in rounding up Kurdish villagers after destroying their houses in the military campaign, code-named Operation Anfal. The men, women and children were separated into two groups surrounded by Iraqi soldiers.

''Are those women and children part of the resistance or are they saboteurs,'' al-Faroon asked rhetorically to counter the defense assertion the military actions were justified because they were against Kurdish rebels who were supporting the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

The tape also showed some executions carried out by Iraqi soldiers in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. At one point, an officer started to fire a pistol at those who had been killed, apparently to make sure they were dead.

One of the defendants, former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, said he was only carrying out orders during the military campaign launched by Saddam Hussein, during which more than 100,000 Kurds were killed.

''I was a military officer receiving orders from superiors and carrying them out with dedication and precision and now I am punished for this. I did not harm any person,'' he said.

Al-Tai, who was head of the Iraqi army 1st Corps during the Anfal campaign, told the chief prosecutor ''if you want to distort my image then it is fine. But, do not distort the image of the Iraqi army.''

He also claimed the Kurdish villagers were compensated for their destroyed houses, which he said were within a restricted area near the Iranian border.

Saddam was a defendant in the Anfal trial but was sentenced to death after his conviction for the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt against him in Dujail. He was hanged Dec. 30, even though the Anfal trial had begun.

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