The massacre on which the first charges against the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein are based took place in Dujail. Twenty three years ago, the Shi’ite village just north of Baghdad was the scene of a failed attempt on Saddam’s life.
A Shi’ite militant group opened fire on his convoy. He escaped unhurt and, prosecutors claim, launched a bloody reprisal on the town during which 143 men were killed.
One resident said 35 members of his clan were executed. Many were arrested, and while some were released in 1986, others never returned, he said. Entire families were held for years at an internment camp in the desert, he added.
Saddam and seven of his aides are facing charges of crimes against humanity over the deaths in Dujail.
“I want justice for my seven brothers, and that means having Saddam executed seven times over,” said one Dujail woman. “I support the death penalty.”
The town never fully recovered. Its rich farmlands and fruit groves were allegedly salted and devastated by Saddam’s troops.