24 Jun Convictions in the Anfal Trial
The verdict has been delivered in the Anfal trial — and not surprisingly, “Chemical Ali” and his highest-ranking co-defendants have been convicted and sentenced to death:
Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam’s cousin and the former head of the Baath Party’s Northern Bureau Command, earned his nickname for his alleged use of chemical weapons against the ethnic minority during efforts to crush a rebellion in the north.
The judge, Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, said al-Majid was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for ordering army and security services to use chemical weapons in a large-scale offensive that killed or maimed thousands.
Former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai also was sent to the gallows after the judge ruled that he had ordered a large-scale attack against civilians and used chemical weapons and deportation against the Kurds.
The former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi Armed Forces, Hussein Rashid Mohammed, also was sentenced to death after he was convicted of drawing up military plans and other allegations against the Kurds.
Two other defendants — both military intelligence officers under Saddam — were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, while charges were dismissed at the prosecution’s request against the former governor of Mosul.
Although the Anfal trial has received far less attention than the Dujail trial, it was no less unfair:
The Anfal trial was marred by procedural flaws including political interference such as removal of the presiding judge on September 19, 2006 by the Iraqi Prime Minister and Cabinet after the judge made remarks perceived as favorable to the defense. Human Rights Watch has also raised concerns about vague charges which made it difficult for the defendants to prepare their case and the inability of the defense to call witnesses who feared for their security. Proceedings in the Anfal trial closed on May 10, 2007 and a verdict will be issued soon. The prosecutor has called for the death penalty to be imposed on five of the six defendants.
“The court undercut the accused’s right to present a vigorous defense by allowing the prosecution to rely on vague charges and refusing requests to accommodate defense witnesses,” said Dicker. “This includes refusing to hear testimony from defense witnesses abroad via videolink.”
More on the Anfal judgment when it becomes available.