Tribunal: 2nd Saddam Trial to Open Aug. 21

Saddam Hussein and six co-defendants will stand trial starting Aug. 21 for his 1980s military campaign against Kurds, Iraq's High Tribunal said Tuesday.

An estimated 100,000 Kurds were killed in the operation in northern Iraq. Known as "Anfal," Arabic for "spoils of war," the campaign was aimed at crushing independence-minded Kurdish militias and clearing out the Kurdish population along the sensitive Iranian border.

Saddam had accused Kurdish militias of ties to Iran. Thousands of Kurdish villages were razed and their inhabitants either killed or displaced.

Thee campaign included "savage military attacks on civilians," including "the use of mustard gas and nerve agents ... to kill and maim rural villagers and to drive them out of their homes," the tribunal said in a memo issued in April.

Others accused in the Anfal case include Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan Majid, or "Chemical Ali;" former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad; former intelligence chief Saber Abdul Aziz al-Douri; former Republican Guard commander Hussein al-Tikriti; former Nineveh provincial Gov. Taher Tafwiq al-Ani; and former top military commander Farhan Mutlaq al-Jubouri.

Saddam and seven other co-defendants have been on trial since Oct. 19 for the deaths of Shiite Muslims following a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail.

That trial is in recess until next month when the defense is to present its closing arguments.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said the Anfal and Dujail cases would proceed in tandem if the Dujail case judges have not reached a verdict by Aug. 21.

"Yet, I think that case will be closed by then," he said.

Iraqi authorities chose to try Saddam separately for various alleged crimes rather than lump all the cases together.

Saddam and others charged in the Dujail case could be hanged if found guilty. But President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said he doubted any sentence would be carried out until all trials were complete — a process likely to take years.