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Dutch Supreme Court upholds mustard gas conviction

Dutch Supreme Court upholds mustard gas conviction

The Dutch Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the war crimes conviction of a businessman for selling chemicals to Saddam Hussein that his regime in Iraq turned into poison gas and unleashed on Kurds and Iranians.
However, the highest Dutch court rejected an appeal by 16 victims for compensation, saying their claims are too complicated. The court also shaved six months off the 17-year sentence handed to Frans van Anraat of the Netherlands because his case took so long.
In May 2007 a Hague appeals court upheld Van Anraat's 2005 conviction for complicity in war crimes and increased his sentence from 15 to 17 years. It rejected a prosecution appeal against his acquittal of complicity in genocide.
Danya Mohammad, who was 11 when she survived Saddam's notorious March 1988 gas attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja, Iraq, by sheltering in a cellar, said she was disappointed by the court's refusal to award damages.
"But the most important thing is that he stays in prison," she said.
Saddam, then Iraq's dictator, ordered the Halabja attack as part of a scorched-earth campaign to crush a Kurdish rebellion in the north, which was seen as aiding Iran in the final months of its war with Iraq. An estimated 5,600 were killed in the nerve and mustard gas attacks _ the vast majority Kurds _ and many still suffer the after effects.
Presiding Judge Leo van Dorst said that from the mid-1980s Van Anraat was Iraq's sole supplier of a chemical called TDG, or thiodiglycol, for its mustard gas production program.
"The suspect knew ... the TDG he was delivering was being used for mustard gas," Van Dorst said. "The suspect knew that the poison gas would be used in the (Iran-Iraq) war."
Lower court judges in The Hague called the sales a "heinous breach of international humanitarian law" that left thousands dead and thousands more maimed, and said Van Anraat was driven by "naked greed" to supply 1,100 tons of the chemical to Saddam.
Van Anraat and his lawyers did not attend Tuesday's brief sitting.
Victims' lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld also was disappointed by the court's refusal to award damages but vowed to continue their fight for compensation in Dutch civil courts.
"We now have a criminal conviction, so we have a clear and sound legal ground," she said. "There's no doubt they will get their decision in court and now they can also claim much higher compensation."
Zegveld said that the judges considered the compensation case too complex since they would have had to take into account laws in Iraq and Iran where the victims came from.
But there was a silver lining. Zegveld said that under the original claim filed in a criminal court, victims' compensation would have been capped at


Updated : 2021-05-17 00:42 GMT+08:00