A survivor testified yesterday at the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein Iraqi warplanes bombarded a Kurdish village with chemical weapons in 1987 and helicopters pursued those who fled and bombed them.
For a second day, survivors took the stand in the trial, in which Saddam and six codefendants are charged over the 1987-1988 Anfal campaign, a military sweep against the Kurds of northern Iraq in which tens of thousands were killed.
Adiba Oula Bayez described the August 16, 1987 bombardment of her village of Balisan, saying warplanes dropped bombs that spread a smoke smelling "like rotten apples".
"Then my daughter Narjis came to me, complaining about pain in her eyes, chest and stomach. When I got close, she threw up all over me," Bayez, a mother of five, said. "When I took her in to wash her face all my children were throwing up."
"Then my condition got bad, too. And that's when we realised the weapon was poisonous and chemical," she said.
Bayez said the villagers fled to nearby caves on mules, "but helicopters came and bombed the mountains".
Like many villagers she was blinded by the gas, she said. In the caves, people were vomiting blood, many had burns.
"All I knew was I was holding tight to my children," she said. "I couldn't see, I couldn't do anything, the only thing I did was scream 'Don't take my kids away'."
The villagers were taken by the military to a prison camp, and Bayez said four people in the same room as her died. On the fifth day, she pried open her swollen eyes with her fingers. "I saw my children's eyes swollen, their skin blackened," she said.
A man claiming to be a former Kurdish guerrilla, or peshmerga, also took the stand, accounting several attacks he witnessed in 1987 and 1988 - including an August 1988 chemical weapons attack on the village of Ikmala in which his brother's family was killed.
"On the ground outside their house, my brother Saleh and his son Shaaban lay dead, hugging each other, and a few yards away was my brother's wife," said Moussa Abdullah Moussa. "I can't tell you the feeling I had."
The accounts resembled those of two other survivors of the attack on Balisan and the neighbouring village of Sheik Wasan who testified on Tuesday.
The survivors are testifying as plaintiffs in the case.
Asked by the judges whom she wished to file her complaint against, Bayez exclaimed: "I complain against Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid and everyone in the defendants' box. May God blind them all."
Saddam and his codefendants could face hanging if convicted. Saddam and his cousin, al-Majid, a Baath Party leader who allegedly organised Anfal, are charged with genocide - considered the toughest to prove since its requires showing an intention to exterminate part of an ethnic group.
Saddam and al-Majid - who became known as "Chemical Ali" for the use of chemical weapons in Anfal - also face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, as do their co-defendants, most of whom are former military figures.
Saddam is still waiting for a verdict on October 16 in the first case against him - the nine-month-long trial over the killings of 148 Shias in a 1980s crackdown on the town of Dujail. In that case as well, he and seven other co-defendants could face the death penalty.