Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

New death ruling for Chemical Ali

Ali Hassan al-Majid
Majid served as Saddam Hussein's defence minister

Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former official in Saddam Hussein's regime who was known as "Chemical Ali", has been given his third death sentence.

He was sentenced along with several other former officials over the 1999 killings of Shia Muslims in Baghdad.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was acquitted by the Iraqi court.

Majid has already received the death penalty for a campaign of genocide against the Kurds in 1988 and the crushing of a Shia uprising in 1991.

The executions have been held up by legal wrangling, and he remains in US custody.

In the latest case, Majid, a cousin of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was condemned to death by hanging "for premeditated murders as crimes against humanity", the court said.

He was found guilty of orchestrating a military crackdown on Shia Muslim protesters who gathered in Baghdad following the assassination of revered Shia cleric Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr in 1999.

A former intelligence chief and a former top Baath party official also received death sentences, the Associated Press news agency reports. Four others were given life sentences.

Tariq Aziz, who faces other charges and will remain in custody, thanked the judge after his acquittal in this case.

The court, the Iraqi High Tribunal, was set up to try former members of Saddam Hussein's mainly Sunni government and was the same one that sentenced the former president to death.

'Right-hand man'

Majid received his first death sentence in June 2007, for genocide over the killing of 100,000 people during the 1988 Anfal campaign against Iraq's Kurds.

He earned his nickname, Chemical Ali, for orchestrating the campaign, which involved poisonous gas attacks on Kurdish towns and villages in the north.

Last December, he was again condemned to hang, this time for his role in the Iraqi army crackdown on a Shia rebellion following Saddam Hussein's defeat by US-led forces in the first Gulf War in 1991. As many as 100,000 people were killed.

Majid was arrested in August 2003 following the US invasion of Iraq.

Often considered to be Saddam Hussein's right-hand man, he had served as Iraq's defence minister, among other positions.

And as a member of the decision-making Revolutionary Command Council, he was regularly called upon to crush regional uprisings.

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