Iraq's prime minister says Saddam Hussein's execution could help defuse insurgency

Iraq's prime minister says Saddam Hussein's execution would help undermine the insurgency as the ex-president's genocide trial heard more testimony Thursday of poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages two decades ago.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he hoped the trial, which began last August, would not last long and "shortly a death sentence will be passed against this criminal tyrant, his aides and the criminals who worked with him."

"Definitely, with his execution, those betting on returning to power under the banner of Saddam and the Baath (Party) will loose," al-Maliki told reporters Wednesday in Najaf.

Saddam and six co-defendants are on trial for their roles in Operation Anfal, a military offensive against the Kurds in 1987-88. The prosecution says some 180,000 Kurds were killed and hundreds of villages destroyed.

Saddam and another defendant are also charged with genocide, but all could face the death penalty if convicted.

Saddam is also awaiting a verdict in a first trial in connection with the deaths of about 148 Shiite villagers in Dujail after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.

A verdict in the Dujail trial is expected next month, and if convicted Saddam could also face death by hanging, reports AP.

Both trials are being closely watched by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, which is battling an insurgency in which Saddam's supporters play a major role.

Saddam's supporters have long maintained that the trials are unfair and that the government has interfered in the judicial process charges that Iraq's new leaders have denied.

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