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Dutch court rules Kurd gassing genocide, convicts businessman of war crimes complicity

[JURIST] A Dutch court Friday sentenced a Dutch businessman to the maximum term of 15 years in prison for complicity in war crimes for selling chemicals used to produce mustard gas to Saddam Hussein's government. Frans van Anraat [BBC profile], who went on trial [JURIST report] in The Hague a month ago, was himself acquitted of genocide charges [JURIST report], but for the first time the court recognized that the killing of thousands of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, including 5000 at Halabja [US State Department backgrounder] in 1988, was an act of genocide. The ruling stated, "The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq." The verdict is not expected to play a role in the present charges against Saddam Hussein, now on trial for crimes against humanity in Baghdad. Van Anraat, who was arrested in Italy in 1989 [Reuters backgrounder] and later in the Netherlands in 2004 [JURIST report], admitted to supplying the chemicals, but denied knowing what they would be used for. BBC News has more. From Amsterdam, Volkskrant provides local coverage in Dutch.

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