The former Iraqi dictator and six other defendants face a fresh trial for their alleged role in Operation Anfal, Arabic for "spoils of war", which killed an estimated 100,000 people.
The 1987-8 operation was launched to crush independence-minded Kurdish militias and clear the Kurdish population along the sensitive Iranian border. Saddam had accused the Kurdish militias of helping Iran.
Kurdish survivors say large areas of northern Iraq were razed and that thousands of young men disappeared.
They also say banned chemical weapons, including mustard gas and nerve agents, were used. However, the new trial will not deal with the infamous gassing of Kurds in Halabja in March 1988, one of the worst atrocities, in which an estimated 5,000 are believed to have died.
That attack will be part of a separate case investigated later by the Iraqi high tribunal.
This is the second trial Saddam has faced - and it comes at a time when human rights groups have raised fresh questions about the fairness of the proceedings.
Human Rights Watch recently claimed the Iraqi high tribunal was incapable of fairly and effectively trying Saddam and the other defendants because the judges and lawyers did not understand international law.
The New York-based group said "serious shortcomings" in Iraq's judicial system were revealed by the first trial relating to the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail.
A verdict in that case is expected when the trial resumes on 16 October, after an adjournment that began last month.
In the Operation Anfal trial, Saddam's co-defendants include his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who allegedly led the campaign as secretary of the Baath Party's northern bureau.
Al-Majid's alleged role in the operation earned him the name "Chemical Ali" for the use of poison gas. Saddam and al-Majid are charged with genocide.
The other defendants include Sabir al-Douri, former director of military intelligence; Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, who was head of the Iraqi Army 1st Corps that executed the Anfal military operations; and Taher Tawfiq al-Ani, the then Mosul governor.
All seven defendants are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
Estimates of the numbers of dead range from tens of thousands to well over 100,000.
Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman, who participated in talks between the Kurds and the former regime's officials, said al-Majid had given an estimate himself.
"I was asking them about the whereabouts of 182,000 missing people whom we didn't know if they were alive, dead or detained," Mr Othman said.
"[Al-Majid] got angry and said, 'Where did you get these numbers? They're about 100,000. And how come you guys call me 'Chemical Ali'?"
Source:Rawya Rageh,//news.scotsman.comGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16