A somber Saddam Hussein called Tuesday for national reconciliation as he returned to court for his genocide trial, two days after another panel sentenced him to hang for crimes against humanity.
During the afternoon court session, Saddam cited references to the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus who had asked for forgiveness for those who opposed them.
"I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," Saddam said before the session was adjourned until Wednesday.
As Tuesday's session began, Saddam, smiling faintly and dressed in a black suit with white shirt, found his way quietly to his seat among the other six defendants charged in the Operation Anfal crackdown against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.
Saddam showed none of the bravado of two days ago, when he shouted "Long live the people and death to their enemies" as another court sentenced him to the gallows.
However, on Tuesday he quietly complained to the judge that the witnesses were not giving testimony that implicated any of the seven defendants.
On Sunday, another five-judge panel convicted Saddam in the deaths of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims following a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail in 1982.
He and two others were sentenced to death by hanging. Four co-defendants received lesser sentences and one was acquitted.
The Anfal trial will continue while an appeal in the Dujail case is under way. The prosecution says about 180,000 Kurds, most of them civilians, were killed in the crackdown in 1987-88.
On Tuesday, the first witness, Qahar Khalil Mohammed, told the court that he and other men from his village surrendered to Iraqi soldiers after being promised that Saddam had issued an amnesty for them.
Instead, the 33 men were lined up at the bottom of a hill and soldiers opened fire on them.
"When they fired in our direction, we all fell to the ground," he said.
Mohammed said he was wounded but survived.
"When I went back, I saw my father and two brothers had been killed, as well as 18 of my relatives," he testified. He said an Iraqi medical officer used a broken bottle to clean his wound.
On Monday, the chief prosecutor in the Dujail case said a nine-judge appeals panel was expected to rule on Saddam's guilty verdict and death sentence by the middle of January. That could set in motion a possible execution by mid-February.
Meanwhile, in Tehran, the Iranian government called Tuesday for the death sentence on Saddam to be carried out, saying the former Iraqi dictator was a criminal who deserved to die.
"We hope the fair, correct and legal verdict against this criminal... is enforced," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told a news conference.
Iran and Iraq waged a bitter eight-year war after Saddam invaded the country in 1980.
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