Chemical Ali sentenced to hang by Iraq Tribunal
Three hang, two get life for Anfal genocide
Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as 'Chemical Ali,' was sentenced to death for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday.
The court also sentenced two other former high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime to death for their role in a genocidal campaign against Iraq's ethnic Kurds that killed tens of thousands in the 1980s. They are Sultan Hashim al-Tai, a former defense minister; Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, former armed forces deputy chief of operations.
Two others were sentenced to life in prison; Sabir al-Duri, former director of military intelligence; and Farhan al-Juburi, a former military intelligence commander.
The sixth defendant, Taher al-Ani, former governor of the main northern city of Mosul was acquitted for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for five of the accused, but have asked the court to free Ani for lack of evidence. Chief prosecutor Munquith al-Faroon has also personally requested a more lenient sentence for Duri.
The Iraqi High Tribunal -- set up to try former regime officials -- passed judgment on the accused for a brutal military campaign in northern Iraq in which nearly 3,000 villages were razed to the ground.
Al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam, was the most prominent defendant. He was the only individual besides Saddam to be charged with genocide over the so-called Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s when the Iran-Iraq war was at its peak.
Over the course of the trial, which opened on August 21 last year, a defiant Majid said he was right to order the attacks.
"I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and relocate the villagers," he said at one hearing. "The army was responsible to carry out those orders."
In a sometimes belligerent tone, Majid said he was not defending his actions. "I am not defending myself. I am not apologizing. I did not make a mistake," he told chief judge Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah.
Since the execution of Saddam, Majid has emerged as the star defendant in the trial and takes the front seat in the dock previously occupied by the former dictator.
Saddam, driven from power by a U.S.-led invasion in April 2003, was executed last December 30 for crimes against humanity in a separate case.
Concerns over trial
Prior to judgment passing, the defendants’ defense team and Human Rights Watch have raised serious concerns over what they termed “a flawed trial.
Ahead of the judgment, the defense team approached the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to stop the trial which it said was marred by "errors".
"I appeal to the U.N. Secretary General to quickly intervene and save the six accused from execution in the Anfal trial," lead defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said in a statement released in Amman.
"The six are prisoners of war and their trial by the Iraqi High Tribunal was marred by errors and violations of the law."
Human Rights Watch also expressed concern Friday that the verdicts in the Anfal trial could be flawed as it said they were in the previous trial of Saddam over the killing of Shiites from the village of Dujail in the 1980s.
The analysis of the Dujail trial "shows serious flaws in the application of basic international criminal law principles," said Richard Dicker, who heads the watchdog's International Justice Program.
"This raises concerns such errors will be repeated in the Anfal judgement and it therefore won't withstand scrutiny or the test of time."
The New York-based group said the Anfal trial has also been marred by procedural flaws, including the government's removal of the first presiding judge, Abdallah al-Ameri, a few weeks after the start of the trial.
In addition, Human Rights Watch "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."