World News

Iraq court to rule in "Chemical Ali" case this month

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi court will hand down its verdict this month in the trial of Saddam Hussein’s cousin, widely known as Chemical Ali, over the killing of tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1988 Anfal campaign, a judge said on Sunday.

Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Ali Hassan al-Majeed, once one of the most feared men in Iraq.

He is on trial with five other former senior Baath party officials for their roles in the 1988 Anfal (Spoils of War) campaign against ethnic Kurds that prosecutors say killed up to 180,000 people.

Chief judge Mohammed al-Uraibi said verdicts against all six would be delivered on June 24. He made the announcement at the final session in the trial on Sunday, which lasted only a few minutes.

Kurds, who make up about 20 percent of the population, have long sought justice. Their mountainous northern region is still haunted by the devastating seven-month military operation in which mustard gas and nerve agents were used to clear villages.

Majeed, known as Chemical Ali for his alleged use of chemical weapons, said during the trial he ordered troops to execute all Kurds who ignored orders to leave their villages, but said he had nothing to apologize for.

The defendants have said Anfal had legitimate military targets -- Kurdish guerrillas who had sided with Iran during the last stage of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.

Charges against Saddam himself in the Anfal trial lapsed when he was hanged on December 30 for crimes against humanity in a separate case.