Saddam Hussein's Cousin Sentenced to Hang
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Unidentified Man (Judge): (Through interpreter) To sentence you with hanging until death, because you committed a crime, genocide crime, a crime against humanity.
INSKEEP: NPR's Rachel Martin is covering the story in Baghdad. And Rachel, was Chemical Ali the only person found responsible?
RACHEL MARTIN: He was not. Besides Chemical Ali, as he's known, there were two other former Baathist who were sentenced to life in prison for their role in the Anfal genocide. Two more officials were sentenced to death by hanging - the former minister of defense under Saddam Hussein and the former deputy of operations for Iraqi forces. And another defendant, the former governor of the province of Mosul in the north, was actually released because of lack of evidence.
INSKEEP: Kurdish Iraqis must be pleased.
MARTIN: But overall there really wasn't the kind of strong public reaction you might have expected from this. You know, while Chemical Ali is a big name and a notorious criminal, he's not Saddam Hussein. And there were only a handful of Iraqi journalists present at the sentencing. And Kurdish papers barely made a mention of it on the days leading up to the verdict.
INSKEEP: Did any of the men who were convicted, at any point during the trial, make statements, strong statements, memorable statements in their own defense?
MARTIN: In the sentencing, really, the only outburst every once in a while, you would hear a defendant utter alu akbar, or thanks be to God. And the only person who really tried to defend himself was Hussein Rashid Mohammed; that's the former deputy of military operations. And when he heard his sentence to death by hanging, he shouted at the judge, we're not criminals. We defended our country. Long live the Iraqi army and long live the Iraqi people.
INSKEEP: We're talking with NPR's Rachel Martin, who's covering the latest trial of Iraqis accused of war crimes. And while those trials go on, fighting continues elsewhere in Iraq and in fact we're in the middle of what U.S. commanders are calling their most significant operation in Iraq since 2003. What's happening, Rachel?
MARTIN: It's important to also note that while a lot of the military's focus has been on Baqouba, most of the American troop fatalities in the past week since these operations began has happened in Baghdad. And at least 24 U.S. soldiers have been killed in and immediately around the capital; most of those soldiers have died as a result of roadside bomb attacks.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Rachel Martin in Baghdad. Rachel, thanks very much.
MARTIN: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.