Published June 19, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi tribunal investigating members of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime released a videotape Sunday showing testimony by the ousted dictator's cousin, nicknamed "Chemical Ali" (search) for his alleged role in the 1988 chemical attack that killed thousands of Kurds.
Ali Hassan al-Majid (search) and seven other former officials were shown testifying before an investigating judge and signing statements. The tribunal did not say when the tape was made, but one of the documents signed by al-Majid was dated June 16.
It was the third such tape released by the panel this month. On June 15, the tribunal released a video showing the questioning of three former senior officials — including Saddam's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim. Saddam himself appeared on an earlier tape.
The first four former officials shown on the tape released Sunday were all on the list of America's most wanted Iraqis. Little was known about the last four men shown.
In the tape, al-Majid is sitting in a chair and later signing a document. There is no audio except for when the men say their names.
Al-Majid, a general and member of the now-defunct Revolutionary Command Council, is accused of involvement in the 1988 gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja, which killed an estimated 5,000 people. He was captured in August 2003. The council was the highest executive body in Iraq and was chaired by Saddam.
The tribunal said he was questioned about crimes against religious parties and the killing and arresting of Faili Kurds living in Iraq. The charge was not related to the gassing of Halabja.
The small Faili minority are Shiite Kurds from an area in northeastern Iraq that straddles the border between Iraq and Iran. Saddam Hussein forcibly deported tens of thousands of Faili early in the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran. Saddam's regime denounced the Faili as alien Persians, accusing them of spying for the Iranians and aiding their war effort.
Another defendant shown on the tape was Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, a presidential secretary and cousin of Saddam's. The tribunal said he too was charged with crimes against religious parties.
It then showed former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, and said he also was charged with crimes against the Faili Kurds.
Former Interior Minister Mahmoud Diab al-Ahmed was also shown. The tribunal said he too faced a blanket charge of crimes against religious parties.
Among the last four men shown in the tape, Sadoun Shakir al-Obeidi faced charges of taking part in a massacre in Dujail, a town 50 miles north of Baghdad, where at least 50 people were shot dead in 1982 in retaliation for a failed attempt to assassinate Saddam. Saddam is also a defendant in that case, which is expected to be the first charge against him.
The other three men were all charged with participating in the massacre of Shiites in the south after the 1991 Gulf War. They were identified as Maad Ibrahim Khalil al-Douri, Saadi Tu'ma Abbas and Ghalib Omar Mahdi.
No trial dates have been set for Saddam or the other former regime officials who have been detained.