This time around, Hussein faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to his regime’s scorched-earth “Anfal” campaign against rebellious Kurds almost two decades ago.
He is in the dock of the special Iraqi tribunal with six other ex-aides, the most notorious being his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who earned the nickname “Chemical Ali” because of his purported sanctioning of the use of internationally banned chemical weapons.
Both Hussein and al-Majid could face the hangman if convicted for responsibility in the death of as many as 100,000 Kurds during a 1988 military campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Not-guilty pleas were entered for the seven defendants, who are expected to argue that the regime used appropriate force to put down pro-Iranian Kurdish rebels during a critical stage of the bloody 1980s Iraq-Iran war.
Asked his name, Hussein’s once-ferocious commander replied, “The fighting comrade Staff Major General pilot Ali Hassan al-Majid.” He gave his occupation as “detainee.”
Hussein often parried the judge’s questions, refusing to respond when queried if he was innocent or guilty. “That would require volumes of books,” Hussein finally explained.
Hussein chided presiding judge Abdullah al-Amiri for silencing two defense attorneys, an Egyptian and a Jordanian, because they are not Iraqi.