Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein's genocide trial against the Kurds in 1980s resumed on Wednesday during which Kurdish witnesses told the court how they survived a massacre by Saddam's death squad.
Wearing black suit and holding Quran, the holy Muslim book, Saddam entered the courtroom along with his six aides who believed to be involved in the Anfal military campaign.
On Wednesday's session, the first eyewitness for a mass grave for Kurdish people in western Iraq during the Saddam's crackdown on Kurds insurgency dubbed the Operation Anfal (Spoils of War), took the stand on condition of anonymity.
The witness, who gave the testimony behind a curtain for personal security reason, described how he and other Kurdish people were driven through unpaved roads to Iraq's western desert.
"We heard screaming and gunfire but it was far from us," he said, adding the detainees realized they would be shot dead.
"One of the detainees told us to recite the Shahada (Muslim declaration of faith) and ask for forgiveness as we are going to die in few minutes," he said.
The witness said he tried to run away and fell into a ditch full of bodies after he and three other detainees attack the guards who would approach with their weapons, saying that on his way to flee the site, he saw many ditches full of bodies in the desert.
The witness made his complaints against Saddam, Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali" and all other defendants.
A second Kurdish witness, also speaking anonymously from behind a screen, recalled that Iraqi soldiers took detainees, including himself, to the desert and attempted to execute them.
"They put us, altogether 34 persons, in vehicles. We had thought they would take us back home, but they took us to the south and we were blindfolded," the witness said.
"We didn't know where exactly we were taking to until our vehicles arrived at an area where we could heard the shovels burying bodies who were executed before," he said.
The witness was wounded and several other detainees were killed when they attacked the guards who opened fire on them.
"After cease-fire I ran for twenty minutes until I reached a camp," he said, adding that the people there gave him food and medicine before he left after three days.
The second witness made complaints against Saddam, Ali Hassan and all those who involved in the Anfal operation, he also demanded for compensation.
After hearing two witnesses, the Chief Judge Muhammed Ureiby announced that the court adjourned until Thursday, on Oct. 19.
Saddam and his codefendants face charge of genocide for their role in Anfal military campaign against Iraq's Kurds in the 1980s, which the chief prosecutor said left some 182,000 people dead or missing.
All the main charges in Anfal carry death penalty.
Saddam is also awaiting a possible death sentence verdict for a separate case involving killing of some 148 Shiites.
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006)