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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Witness Testifies on Hussein-Era Torture

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The trial of Saddam Hussein on charges of crimes against humanity on Wednesday heard some of the strongest evidence yet linking the former Iraqi president and his co-defendants to alleged torture.

A witness told the court that Hussein's guards applied electric shocks to detainees at the headquarters of his feared intelligence service in Baghdad, and heated up plastic tubing and allowed the hot plastic to drip onto the victims.

"They would be in such pain as the plastic solidified on their bodies," the witness recalled. "A man would leave on his feet and and come back thrown in a blanket."

Hussein and seven co-defendants, including his former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, are standing trial in connection with the killing of 148 people from the mainly Shiite village of Dujail, north of Baghdad, in the 1980s.

Prosecuters say Hussein ordered the killings in reprisal for a failed bid to assassinate him in the village in 1982.

Previous witnesses have given sometimes rambling and imprecise accounts of hardships they suffered under Hussein but the latest, Ali Hassan al-Haidari, spoke calmly and coherently and made a specific allegation against Barzan.

He said Hussein's half-brother Barzan had been present in the building where the torture took place and had kicked him once as Haidari lay in a hallway suffering from a fever.

"He said to the guards 'Do not treat him, this family does not deserve to live," Haidari said. "I was in pain for weeks because of that kick."

Barzan lost his temper several times. During six trial hearings he has emerged as the most outspoken defendant, eclipsing even Hussein, who seemed subdued on Wednesday.

At one point Barzan leapt to the defense of another defendant, former Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan, when the witness accused Ramadan of bulldozing farms in Dujail.

"His [Ramadan's] shoe is more honorable than you and all your tribe, you dog!" Barzan shouted at Haidari.

Court guards twice opened the gate to the caged defendants' dock as if to remove Barzan but the judge ordered them to stop.

Hussein boycotted the previous session of the trial on Dec. 7 but was back Wednesday, taking notes and listening intently inside the fortified courtroom.