Iraq’s ‘Chemical Ali’ gets his third death sentence


Baghdad : The Iraqi High Tribunal Monday sentenced former senior Iraqi official Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali, to death for his role in the 1999 crackdown on Shia Iraqis following the killing of prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammad al-Sadr.

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Al-Sadr’s supporters blame the intelligence agencies of the former regime of Saddam Hussein for his death. Al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam, served as intelligence chief and defence minister at the time.

As tensions ran high in many cities, Iraqi security forces attacked worshippers in two mosques in the then Saddam City (now al-Sadr city), killing a large number of worshippers and detaining scores.

Al-Majid, who was listed as the fifth most-wanted man in Iraq after the US invasion, was captured in August 2003.

The tribunal’s decision Monday marked the third death sentence for al-Majid for crimes committed while in office. In December, he was sentenced to death for the brutal crushing of the Shia uprising that followed the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.

In June, al-Majid was also given the death sentence for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his part in the 1988 Anfal campaign, in which 180,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas were killed. Al-Majid earned his nickname for his role in the use of poison in the campaign.

The tribunal Monday acquitted Tareq Aziz, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister on charges related to the campaign against the Shias.

Aziz is facing another trial for his alleged involvement in the execution of around 40 merchants accused of breaking state price controls in 1992, when Iraq was under UN sanctions imposed after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Of the 14 defendants, two other top former Baath officials were sentenced to death and four were jailed for life, including Abed Hamid Mahmoud, who was Saddam’s personal secretary at the time.