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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
'Chemical Ali' sentence confirmed
Ali Hassan al-Majid, or "Chemical Ali", in court on 24 June 2007
"Chemical Ali" is the cousin of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
A court in Iraq has upheld death sentences for crimes against humanity of a cousin of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and two of his aides.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali", Hussein Rashid and Sultan Hashim were convicted in June of the killings of at least 100,000 Kurds during 1988.

Saddam Hussein was also being tried for his role in the campaign before he was hanged last December.

Iraqi law states that the three must be executed within 30 days of the ruling.

Two others received life prison sentences for their role in the Anfal campaign, which was the culmination of the former government's efforts to suppress resistance in Iraq's north.

Majid is currently also on trial for the brutal suppression of a Shia uprising in southern Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991.

The BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad says it is likely he will now be executed before that trial can be completed, because the government has to carry out the death sentence within 30 days.

Poison gas

Under the procedures of the US-supported Iraqi High Tribunal, which convicted the three in June, the sentences were automatically referred to a separate court of nine appeal judges.

THE ANFAL CAMPAIGN
Anfal (English: Spoils of War) took place between February and August 1988
Officially it was a clampdown on Kurdish separatism in the north
With a civilian death toll of up to 180,000, Kurds regard it as a campaign of genocide
Mustard gas and nerve agents were used in air attacks
Other victims were summarily executed or died in captivity

"The... court has confirmed the death sentence on Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashim al-Tai and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti," Chief Judge Aref Shahin said after the decision.

"According to Iraqi law, sentence must be carried out within 30 days, no more."

Majid and Hashim, both former defence ministers, and Rashid, a former deputy head of military operations, had been found guilty of organising what was known as the Anfal campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq in the late 1980s.

Majid acquired his nickname Chemical Ali during the operation after poison gas was used.

Thousands of villages were also destroyed, as part of a systematic attempt to wipe out the Kurdish people.

A notorious massacre at Halabja in March 1988, in which 5,000 people were killed by gas, was not included in the charges as it was seen as being separate from the Anfal campaign.


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