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Genocide trial begins for Dutchman accused of supplying chemicals to Iraq

[JURIST] Frans van Anraat [BBC profile], a Dutch businessman accused of supplying chemical agents to Iraq with the knowledge that Saddam Hussein would use them for poison gas attacks, went on trial Monday in the Netherlands on charges of complicity in war crimes and genocide [JURIST report]. Van Anraat is alleged to have supplied agents used by Saddam's military in Iraq's 1980-1988 war against Iran and its own Kurdish population, specifically during the 1988 attack on Halabja [JURIST report], which killed around 5,000. Van Anraat who was previously on the FBI's "most wanted" list [JURIST report], continued to supply chemicals even after the Halabja attack according to the prosecution; the defense maintains that van Anraat stopped shipments to Iraq after the Halabja attack and van Anraat has denied the charges. Van Anraat could face life imprisonment if convicted and is the first Dutchman to be tried on genocide-related charges. Relatives of victims of the attack are seeking compensation of up to 10,000 euros. A criminal investigation by US custom authorities in Baltimore found that van Anraat had been involved in four shipments to Iraq of thiodiglycol, an industrial chemical which can be used to make mustard gas, and United Nations weapons inspectors consider him to be an "important middle man" in supplying Iraq with chemical agents. Van Anraat was first detained in Milan in 1989 [Reuters backgrounder] before he fled to Iraq until 2003 when he returned to the Netherlands. Reuters has more.

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