Dutch merchant sentenced for chemical sale

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake But van Anraat argued he was unaware the materials would be used in chemical warfare, and that he was being unfairly targeted while countless others have not been prosecuted for supplying arms and military intelligence to Iraq. Although the court determined that the slaughter of thousands of Kurds in the villages constituted genocide, it said van Anraat could not be held responsible for genocide since his chemicals were delivered to Iraq before the mass killings began. He was instead found guilty of multiple counts of war crimes, violating the laws and customs of war and causing death and serious bodily harm to the whole or entire Kurdish population, said presiding Judge Roel van Rossum. The court also awarded total damages of $11,800 to 15 victims, the maximum under Dutch law applicable in the case. The defense said it would appeal the conviction. Van Anraat’s lawyers did not contest the occurrence of “awful crimes.” But they argued that, at worst, he had violated economic guidelines, not international humanitarian law. They said the time limit to prosecute those economic crimes has expired and the events occurred so long ago that witness statements were neither accurate nor reliable. THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A Dutch chemicals merchant was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday for selling Saddam Hussein’s regime the materials used to kill thousands in lethal gas attacks on Kurdish villages in the 1980s. Frans van Anraat, 63, was not in the courtroom when the judges found him guilty of war crimes but acquitted him of genocide charges. Outside the courtroom, more than 100 Kurds sang, banged drums and danced in celebration. “I spoke to my family in Halabja and they cried with joy,” said Dana Habajal, who survived the March 16, 1988, poison gas attack on the Iraqi town that killed 5,000 Kurds. “I’m so happy, I don’t know what to say. I hope Saddam Hussein faces the same.” Prosecutors said van Anraat shipped at least 1,100 tons of chemicals to Iraq from 1986 to 1988 using a roundabout route that was meant to conceal the destination. The indictment said the lethal gas was used in attacks on the villages of Halabja, Goptata, Birjinni and Zewa with the intention of wiping out the ethnic Kurdish population. Van Rossum said the maximum penalty of 15 years was insufficient for the case, noting that van Anraat’s goods fed into a chemical weapons program that “made possible a large number of attacks on defenseless civilians.” He said van Anraat knew he was violating an export ban to Iraq and mislabeled shipments so as not to attract the attention of authorities. Van Anraat, 63, eluded justice for years, even though at one point he topped the CIA’s most wanted list and was detained at the request of U.S. authorities in Italy in 1989. He was released by an Italian judge who ruled the charges were politically motivated. He returned to the Netherlands following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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