[JURIST] Former Saddam-era deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], brought before the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] Monday to testify against six defendants accused of genocide in the Anfal trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline], instead denied that Hussein's government had ever carried out any such attacks. Aziz insisted that Iraq did not have the chemical weapons necessary for the alleged poison gas attacks that killed 5600 Kurds in northern Iraq, instead fingering Iran as the culprit. Aziz went on to praise Hussein [AFP report], continuing even after he was ordered to be be silent by the chief judge. AP has more.
The six defendants are all former Hussein regime officials charged in connection with the deaths of some 180,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder] of the 1980s. One of the six, Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], also known as "Chemical Ali," allegedly ordered the gas attacks. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to death by hanging. In December 2006, prosecutors presented video evidence of the gas attacks, but later that month two co-defendants said Hussein's regime had only used conventional weapons [JURIST reports] against the Kurds. Aziz is suspected of involvement in the deaths of Kurds and Shiites in 1991, but his lawyers say that he has not yet been charged.