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Saddam cousin makes immunity claim in genocide trial

[JURIST] Ali Hassan al-Majid [JURIST news archive, BBC profile], the cousin of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] also known to the Western media as "Chemical Ali," insisted before the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] Monday that he should not be forced to stand trial because he has the same kind of immunity from Iraqi legal process afforded to US troops. Al-Majid's lawyers challenged the Tribunal's jurisdiction by pointing to Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 17 [PDF], which grants immunity to US troops fighting in Iraq from the Iraqi legal process. Prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon countered that while US troops may have immunity within Iraq, they may be tried by the US military. Al-Majid faces war crimes charges in the ongoing genocide trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] based on Saddam's regime's involvement in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds. On Sunday, al-Majid unapologetically admitted in court [JURIST report] that he gave orders for the destruction of dozens of Kurdish villages and the relocation of thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

Al-Majid is now the leading defendant [JURIST report] in the trial following the December 30 execution [JURIST report] of Saddam Hussein. The six remaining defendants are all former Hussein regime officials and were originally charged with the late dictator in connection with the deaths of some 180,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder] of the 1980s. On Monday, al-Faroon introduced to the court 45 documents allegedly proving the defendants' guilt. AP has more. VOI has local coverage.

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