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Saddam Lawyer: Green Zone Office Trashed

A defense lawyer in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial demanded Wednesday that the court investigate the alleged ransacking of the defense team's office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone.

The demand was made by counsel Badee Izzat Aref as the trial resumed with Saddam and the six co-defendants present. They have been on trial since August for their roles in a crackdown against Kurdish guerrillas in the late 1980s.

About 180,000 people, mostly civilians, died in the crackdown, codenamed Operation Anfal, the prosecution has said.

Aref told the court that intruders last month damaged and stole dozens of documents, undermining the defense's effort in the trial. Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa ordered the prosecution to give a new set of documents to the defense.

"I demand the opening of an investigation on the American side because the area of the offices is guarded by the Americans, who would shoot anybody who comes near," Aref said.

It was the first time that Aref appeared in the court since Sept. 21 when the defense team announced a boycott of the trial to protest the court's rejection of many of their motions.

On Sunday, a separate court sentenced Saddam to hang for the deaths of about 150 Shiite Muslims following an assassination attempt against him in 1982 in the town of Dujail.

Saddam has appealed, but his trial for Operation Anfal is to continue while a panel of nine judges considers the appeal. Saddam and his co-defendants could also be condemned to death if they are convicted in this trial.

In Tuesday's session, Saddam called on all Iraqis — Arabs and Kurds — "to forgive, reconcile and shake hands."

On Wednesday, the court heard more testimony from Kurdish survivors about attacks against them during the Anfal operation.

Witness Ayoub Abdellah Mohammed said his village was attacked with chemical weapons Aug. 24, 1988.

"After this we had difficulty in breathing and I told the villagers that the village was hit by chemical weapons," he said. "I could see birds falling and liquids coming out of people's noses."

Another witness, Tawfeeq Abdul-Aziz Mustafa, said he and other villagers fled to Turkey after a chemical attack on their community Aug. 25, 1988.

"We looked at the villages and there was yellow smoke coming out," he said. "Our eyes became red, itchy and teary. We knew it was a chemical attack."

Mustafa said he lost about 40 percent of his vision because of exposure to the chemical weapons.

One of the defendants, former intelligence chief Sabir al-Douri, maintained that the Iranian army was operating near where some of the attacks took place.

He said that Kurdish rebels, whom the defense maintains were the target of the Anfal operation, were working closely with Iranian troops during the eight-year war, which began in 1980.

The trial adjourned to Nov. 27 to give the defense time to submit its list of witnesses.

In other developments:

  • The U.S. military announced the deaths of a soldier and a Marine Wednesday, raising the number of American forces killed this month in Iraq to 21 in the first eight days of November.
  • At least 66 Iraqis were killed or found dead Wednesday, including seven who died from injuries received in the previous day's suicide bombing of a coffee shop in a Shiite district of Baghdad. A pair of mortar rounds slammed into a soccer field while young men were playing a game in a Shiite district of Baghdad, killing at least eight people.
  • At least six people were killed when explosives hidden in a minivan detonated in an open-air market in the city of Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad, a police officer said. Another 16 people were killed in a string of shootings and bombings in Diyala province north of the capital, while car bomb in western Baghdad killed three people and wounded three, according to Iraqi police.
  • A former 101st Airborne Division soldier pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the rape and slaying of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killings of three others in her family. Former Army Pvt. Steven D. Green, 21, was indicted last week on federal charges including murder and aggravated sexual assault. The attack happened March 12 in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, where Green was stationed with the division's 502nd Infantry Regiment. The indictment alleges that Green and others raped the girl and burned her body to conceal their crimes. It also alleges that Green and four others stationed at a nearby checkpoint killed her father, mother and younger sister.
  • U.S. forces said they killed 14 suspected insurgents, detained 48, and rescued a kidnapped Iraqi policeman in a pair of raids beginning on Tuesday afternoon. There was no word on U.S. casualties in those actions, although separately, the military said a Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died on Wednesday from wounds sustained in fighting in Anbar province.
  • Iraq's parliament voted Wednesday to extend the country's state of emergency for 30 more days, two members of parliament said. Lawmakers present for the closed-door meeting attended by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki voted unanimously for the extension, said legislators Ammar Touama and Kamal al-Saidi. The state of emergency has been renewed every month since first being authorized in November 2004. It grants security forces greater powers and affects the entire country apart from the autonomous Kurdish region in the north.
  • American ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said U.S. support for Iraq would continue following the Democratic Party's seizure of control of the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections Tuesday. Iraq's violence and political instability were key issues benefiting the Democrats, who have been highly critical of President Bush's conduct of the war.