updated 8/22/2007 9:05:29 PM ET 2007-08-23T01:05:29

An Iraqi woman testified Wednesday about losing her husband and unborn child during the brutal suppression of a 1991 Shiite uprising in the second day of a trial of former regime officials charged with crimes against humanity for their roles in the crackdown.

Kamila Iyad Hadi, who lives near the southern city of Basra, said four military officers broke into her family’s house on March 19, 1991, and detained her husband. She was pregnant at the time but lost the baby when she jumped over a wall to flee the agents.

Hadi, who cried as she told her story from behind a curtain, said she returned home after a few days in the hospital to find that her house had been leveled as part of Saddam Hussein’s scorched-earth campaign. A year later, she was told her husband had been executed.

“The only thing I know about my husband is that his name was among the lists of mass graves victims,” she said, referring to the tens of thousands estimated to have been killed in the crackdown against Shiites following Saddam’s defeat by U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraqi Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north — repressed under Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime — sought to take advantage of the defeat, launching separate uprisings and briefly seizing control of 14 of the country’s 18 provinces.

U.S. troops created a safe haven for Kurds in three northern provinces, preventing Saddam from attacking. But Iraqi troops crushed the other uprising in the predominantly Shiite south.

Saddam’s cousin and former defense minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, who gained the nickname “Chemical Ali” after poison gas attacks on Kurdish towns in the 1980s, and 14 others went on trial Tuesday for crimes against humanity in the case.

Rules of the court broken
A 76-year-old former Shiite lawmaker testified that he was falsely imprisoned for months following the uprising, describing how fellow inmates were carried back to jail in blankets after hours of torture rendered them unable to walk.

“I was later released because of the presidential pardon, but my life was already destroyed. I was dismissed from the parliament. My cotton was destroyed by the army shelling and my house was damaged,” Kamil Kanoun Abu al-Heil said.

Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa briefly ejected two defendants — former Republican Guards commander Maj. Gen. Iyad Fathi al-Rawi and former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai — for violating court rules after he told the 15 men not to talk to each other or sit cross-legged. They were allowed to return to the courtroom after a short recess.

The trial is the third involving former regime officials.

The first led to the hanging of Saddam and three others after their convictions for the 1982 killings of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail.

Al-Tai, al-Majid and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, an ex-deputy director of military operations, were sentenced to death in the second trial, which dealt with the killings of more than 100,000 people during the 1980s military crackdown on Kurds. They have appealed the decision.

Defendants profess innocence
The defendants who spoke Tuesday maintained their innocence and questioned the U.S.-backed court’s credibility.

Sabir al-Douri, former director of military intelligence, told the judge he was in Baghdad during the 1991 Shiite uprising and did not visit the south.

Sabawi Ibrahim, a half brother of Saddam’s who headed an intelligence agency in 1991, said the U.S.-backed court was illegal and that the Shiite uprising had been orchestrated by Iran, with which Saddam’s regime had fought a devastating war.

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