Iraq Court Starts New Trial for 'Chemical Ali'

An Iraqi court on Sunday began a new trial for Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali," and three other Saddam Hussein-era officials accused in a 1998 gas attack that killed 5,000 Kurds. The relatives of the plaintiffs were allegedly gassed to death in the Kurdish village of Halabja. Hundreds of Kurds called for the execution of al-Majid, who has already been sentenced to death twice. Also facing trial are former defense minister Sultan Hashem and two intelligence officers.


Earlier this month, the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal sentenced al-Majid to death for his involvement in the repression of Shiites in southern Iraq during the Saddam regime. Al-Majid has also been sentenced to death for the killing of Kurdish Iraqis using chemical weapons during the 1988 Anfal campaign. His death sentence in the Anfal case was upheld on appeal in September 2007, but Iraq's Presidency Council did not approve the execution until late February. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government said in early March that al-Majid would not be executed until the Presidency Council approved the death sentences of al-Majid's two co-defendants in that case.

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