The Associated Press BAGHDAD
"Saddam Hussein opened his second trial with a show of defiance Monday, refusing to enter a plea on charges of genocide and war crimes connected to his scorched-earth offensive against Kurds nearly two decades ago.
The trial opens a new legal chapter for the ousted Iraqi leader, who once again faces a possible death penalty for the killings of tens of thousands of Kurds during the Iraqi army’s “Operation Anfal” — Arabic for “spoils of war.”
The 1987-88 crackdown was aimed at crushing independence-minded Kurdish militias and clearing all Kurds from the northern region along the border with Iran. Saddam accused the Kurds of helping Iran in its war with Iraq.
Kurdish survivors say many villages were razed and countless young men disappeared.
They also accuse the army of using prohibited mustard gas and nerve agents, but the trial does not deal with the most notorious gassing — the March 1988 attack on Halabja that killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds. That incident will be part of a separate investigation by the Iraqi High Tribunal.
Saddam, wearing a black suit and white shirt, was the first defendant called into the court as the trial’s first session began Monday morning. When Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri asked Saddam to identify himself for the record, Saddam retorted: “You know me.”
Al-Amiri said it was the law that defendants had to identify themselves.