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24 Jun, 2007 05:08

Chemical Ali to be hung

Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who was known as Chemical Ali during the Iraq war, has been sentenced to death by an Iraqi court for his role in the killing of thousands of Kurds during gas attacks in the 1980s.

He has been convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for ordering the army to use chemical weapons on a large scale. Tens of thousands, including women and children, were killed in northern Iraq in the campaign against the Kurds.

Saddam's former defence minister and the armed forces chief have also received the death penalty.

In the city of Halabja, north of Baghdad, the verdicts were widely welcomed. 

“The people of Halabja are glad to hear the decision of the Iraqi court to execute Ali Hassan and his group,” a Kurdish man said.

In central Baghdad the trial has been closely followed too. The reactions were similar there, although there were fears over the fairness of the judicial system.

“I’m convinced anybody or any official who commits a crime against his people should be punished. And the criminal wouldn't have been convicted unless he was found guilty,” Karim Abass noted.

“The guilty should be punished in a fair way, not like the previous trials did. Law should prevail and any criminal should be punished,” Juma al-Quraishi supposes.

The death sentences were automatically sent to appeal. If it fails, the guilty men would be hanged within 30 days of the ruling.