"I will strike them with chemical weapons and kill them all," a voice - said by prosecutors to be that of Majeed, Saddam's cousin and a senior aide - is heard saying.
 
"Who is going to say anything? The international community? A curse on the international community!"
 
Another voice, which prosecutors said was that of Saddam, is heard saying on another tape: "Yes, it's effective, especially on those who don't wear a mask immediately, as we understand."
 
"Sir, does it exterminate thousands?" a voice asks back.
 
"Yes, it exterminates thousands and forces them not to eat or drink and they will have to evacuate their homes without taking anything with them, until we can finally purge them," the voice identified as Saddam answers.
 
'Honourable battles'
 
Prosecutors said 180,000 people were killed, many of them gassed.
 
The proceedings were dominated by the
empty chair of Saddam Hussein [AFP] 
Munqith al-Faroon, the chief prosecutor, also played a video showing women and children lying dead on village streets and mountain slopes after what he said was a chemical attack ordered by Saddam:
 
"These are the honourable battles they claimed to have launched against the enemy," he told the court.
 
Judge Mohammed al-Ureybi, in his first order of business, formally dropped charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against Saddam.
 
He cut off the microphones when Majeed stood up and started to read the Koran in tribute to the former Iraqi leader.
 
Hanged
 
Many Kurds regret that the chief suspect can no longer face justice for his role in the campaign against them, but they hope others share his fate on the gallows.
 
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"The execution of Saddam Hussein is an outrageous act against humanity"

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Saddam was hanged on December 30 after being convicted in an earlier trial for his role in killing of 148 Shia Iraqis in the 1980s.
 
Majeed, who faces charges of genocide, is considered the main organiser of the Anfal campaign.
 
The gassing of 5,000 people in the town of Halabja is the subject of a separate case.
 
Defendants have said Anfal was a legitimate military operation targeting Kurdish guerrillas who had sided with Iran during the last stages of the war with Iran.