It is Iraq's third trial against former regime officials, with three of the defendants already sentenced to death in another case.
The Iraqi High Tribunal said the defendants are charged with engaging in widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, and the evidence would include testimony from about 90 victims and witnesses.
Saddam's cousin and the former defence minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, who gained the nickname "Chemical Ali" after chemical attacks on Kurdish towns during the so-called Anfal campaign, entered the courtroom wearing his traditional white Arab robe and a red and white chequered head-dress.
The charges stem from the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, in which the US drove Saddam's troops from Kuwait.
Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north sought to take advantage of the defeat, launching uprisings and seizing control of 14 of the country's 18 provinces. US troops created a safe haven for the Kurds in three northern provinces, preventing Saddam from attacking. But the late dictator's troops marched into the predominantly Shiite south and crushed the uprising, killing tens of thousands of people.
It will be the third trial of former regime officials after the Dujail case, in which Saddam and three others were hanged for the 1982 killings of 148 Shiites, and the trial of those accused of killing of more than 100,000 Kurds in a 1980s military campaign.
Al-Majid was sentenced to death in that case but will stand trial in the Shiite uprising case pending his appeal, the court said.
Two others sentenced to death for the Kurdish killings - Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, the former defence minister who led the Iraqi delegation at the cease-fire talks that ended the 1991 Gulf War, and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces - will also face trial in the latest case, he said.
Another high-profile defendant will be Saddam's trusted personal secretary and bodyguard Abed Hameed Hmoud, al-Moussawi said.
Last Mod: 21 Ağustos 2007, 11:33