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Saddam testimony sought by Dutch court in chemical weapons case

[JURIST] A Dutch court took steps Monday to obtain testimony from Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] in an appeal [JURIST report] by a Dutch businessman convicted of selling chemicals that were used in poison gas attacks in Iraq. Frans Van Anraat [BBC profile] was convicted last year of selling raw materials to Iraq that ultimately were used in the 1988 gas attack against Kurds in the town of Halabja [JURIST report] that killed 5,000 people. Iraq also used poisonous gas in Iraq's war with Iran [Wikipedia backgrounder] from 1980 to 1988. The appeals court in The Hague asked an examining judge to determine whether Saddam and several others could be questioned. The potential witnesses include a senior member of Iraq's chemical weapons program and two former ambassadors to Baghdad.

The appeals court denied Anraat's request to be released from serving his 15-year sentence [JURIST report] pending a decision on Saddam's testimony. The court also refused the defense's request for the release of Dutch intelligence documents. But the court ordered the prosecution to provide information regarding Dutch and international exporting policies during the 1980s. In 2003, Anraat admitted to selling the chemicals but claimed he did not know they would ultimately be used in Iraq to create poison gas. Saddam is currently on trial for genocide charges related to the 1988 deaths of 180,000 Kurdish villagers in the so-called "Anfal" campaign [HRW backgrounder]. He also is awaiting a verdict in the separate Dujail crimes against humanity case [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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