/ 4 September 2007

Iraq court upholds Chemical Ali’s death sentence

An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence against Saddam Hussein’s cousin, widely known as Chemical Ali, for masterminding a genocide campaign against Iraq’s Kurds in the 1980s.

”The nine appeal judges have upheld the death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majeed, and according to the law of the court, the sentence must be carried out within 30 days,” the chief prosecutor in the trial, Munkith al-Fatlawi, said.

He said the court also upheld the death sentences against two other accused, Sultan Hashim, Saddam’s former defence minister, and Hussein Rashid, the former deputy head of operations for the Iraqi military.

Majeed, once one of the most feared men in Iraq, was convicted of genocide in June for directing the 1988 Anfal military campaign against Kurds. Prosecutors said up to 180 000 people were killed, chemical weapons used and villages razed.

Majeed has also just gone on trial for his role in crushing a Shi’ite rebellion in southern Iraq in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. Prosecutors have said Majeed could be executed before the latest trial is completed.

The appeals court also upheld the life sentences issued by the Iraqi High Tribunal to two other defendants in the Anfal trial and agreed with the decision to drop charges against the former governor of Mosul.

During the Anfal trial, Majeed, now in his 60s, admitted to ordering troops to execute Kurds who ignored orders to leave their villages, but not to the use of poison gas.

Mustard gas and nerve agents were used to clear villages, earning Majeed his nickname, Chemical Ali.

The defendants said Anfal had legitimate military targets — Kurdish guerrillas who had sided with Iran during the last stage of the 1980 to 1988 Iraq-Iran war.

The International Centre for Transitional Justice, a New York-based legal rights group, has said the trial was marred by political interference and fell short of international fair trial standards. — Reuters