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"Chemical Ali" faces death in June 24 verdict.

"Chemical Ali" faces death in June 24 verdict.Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as "Chemical Ali", is expected to be sentenced to death by hanging on June 24, according to the Iraqi high tribunal. Majid is on trial with five other defendants , including several former military intelligence officers and the deputy director of operations for the Iraqi Armed Forces , for atrocities committed during the al-Anfal campaign against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which prosecutors say resulted in the deaths of 180,000 people. The al-Anfal campaign was launched near the end of the Iran-Iraq war to squelch opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime from Kurdish rebels.

Kurds make up roughly 20 percent of the population of Iraq. They have long sought justice for the campaign in which Majid directed the use of nerve agents and mustard gas against rebels in the semi-autonomous northern region.

The al-Anfal campaign was an eight staged assault against the Kurdish rebels. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, men and teenage boys considered to be of the age of military conscription were systematically processed and executed. In statements before the court last year, Majid acknowledged that he ordered poison gas attacks and the destruction of Kurdish villages, saying they were "full of Iranian agents." Defendants claim Kurdish targets were guerilla's sympathetic to Iran towards the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the defendants because "they did not have mercy on elderly people or women or children." Majid faces convictions for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Charges against Saddam Hussein regarding the al-Anfal campaign were dropped when he was executed in December for the killing of 148 Shi'ites in the town of Dujail.

Commentary: al-Majid was one of the most brutal of the former Ba'athist regime and the wide use of chemical agents by his order is widely known. However, after the execution of Saddam Hussein last winter, and several other botched executions , and the subsequent exploitation of the footage , makes the high tribunal smack of victors justice. An international reconciliation tribunal would lend to any shred of legitimacy remaining in the Iraq campaign. With even Rwanda eliminating the death penalty, it seems justice is being supplanted with revenge.




Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors