BAGHDAD, Iraq – A man testified Monday during Saddam Hussein's genocide trial that he temporarily lost his eyesight as the result of a chemical attack by Iraqi forces on his northern village nearly two decades ago.
Karawan Abdellah, a former Kurdish guerrilla who wore dark glasses as he sat in the witness stand, said he stayed in a hospital for six months and wasn't able to see at all during that period.
"When I take off my glasses in front of my children, they tell me to wear them again because they get scared of the way my eyes look," he said.
He then took off his glasses, saying "I want the cameras to show my eyes," which looked slightly swollen with grayish pupils.
Saddam and six co-defendants are being tried on charges of committing atrocities against Kurds during the Operation Anfal crackdown in northern Iraq nearly two decades ago. The prosecution alleges some 180,000 people died in the campaign, many of them killed by poison gas.
Abdellah recalled seeing "bodies of dead women, children and elderly men. They were killed by chemical weapons."
He said although he took an antidote, he felt body "pains" and his skin was irritated.
"I also vomited and my eyes turned reddish gradually and became watery," said the man, speaking slowly in Kurdish through an Arabic translator as he read his notes.
Abdellah said he later received further treatment in the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum and was granted a Dutch passport in 1994.
"Until now, I have sensitivity to strong light and itches on my skin," he said, asserting that tests in the Netherlands and earlier ones in Iran "proved that I was the victim of a chemical attack."
Abdellah also said he "lost part of his lung" in 2005 but did not elaborate.
He testified that he wanted to file a lawsuit against Saddam, his cousin and co-defendant "Chemical" Ali al-Majid and everyone who participated in Operation Anfal. Abdellah also demanded unspecified compensation for the damage he suffered and the expenses he paid for treatment.