CIVILIANS WERE ‘SAFELY TRANSPORTED’ says Hashim al-Tai

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The show trial in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone of captured Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and six other co-defendants continued yesterday, over the so-called Anfal campaign in northern Iraq at the time of the Iraq/Iran war.

Captured Iraqi defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai, who was commander of Task Force Anfal and head of the Iraqi Army 1st Corps at the time, gave evidence yesterday.

He said: ‘The goal was to fight an organised, armed army . . . the goal was not civilians’.

He said civilians were ‘safely transported’ to other areas, including the northern city of Kirkuk.

Al-Tai stressed the orders in the campaign were ‘to prevent the Iranian army from occupying Iraq at whatever price.’

He added: ‘I implemented them precisely and sincerely without adding anything or exceeding my powers. I never turned a blind eye to any violation.’

Sabir al-Douri, the director of Military Intelligence at the time of Anfal, said: ‘the Iranian army and Kurdish rebels were fighting together’ against the Iraqi army and that Anfal aimed to clear northern Iraq of Iranian troops. 

Al-Douri insisted that the Iraqi government faced a ‘tough situation’ and had to act because the area where the Iranian-allied guerrillas were located had dams that, if destroyed, would flood Baghdad.

He said civilians in the Anfal region had already been removed.

‘You will see that we are not guilty and that we defended our country honorably and sincerely,’ al-Douri said.

• Second news story

AIRLINE ‘PLOT’ SUSPECTS CHARGED

ELEVEN people detained following police raids – including a 17-year-old boy and the mother of an eight-month-old baby – were remanded in custody yesterday, after being charged in connection with an alleged plot to blow up planes.

All 11 deny the charges against them.

Eight of those who appeared before Westminster magistrates in central London were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

They were remanded in custody until September 4, when they are due to appear before the Old Bailey.

Two were accused of failing to disclose information and the 17-year-old boy was charged with possessing articles useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism.

Two of the accused were remanded until September 19 and the 17-year-old boy was remanded until August 29.

The 11 arrived separately at the court in vans with blacked-out windows, having been taken from Paddington Green police station to the court via an unnamed holding area.

One woman arrested as part of the police investigation into the alleged plot has been freed without charge and 11 other people remain in police custody.

Lawyers for the young mother of an eight-month-old baby had gone to the High Court on Monday to challenge the legality of her extended detention.