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'Chemical Ali' denies Anfal chemical weapons use

[JURIST] Ali Hassan al-Majid, known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali" [BBC profile], told the Iraqi High Tribunal Thursday that he did not use or issue an order to use chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels in the late 1980s. During defense closing arguments [JURIST report], al-Majid defended the government of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] for its actions during the "Anfal campaign" [HRW backgrounder], but insisted that he did not know who used chemical weapons, "if they were ever used."

Al-Majid and five other former Hussein-era officials face genocide charges [JURIST news archive] for their alleged involvement in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds during the Anfal campaign. Defense witnesses have repeatedly testified [JURIST report] that the defendants did not have access to chemical weapons and that no orders were received to use them. Prosecutors have sought the death penalty [JURIST report] for Al-Majid and three other defendants and have asked that charges be dropped against one of the defendants due to lack of evidence. Al-Majid became the leading defendant [JURIST report] in the trial following Hussein's execution [JURIST report] last year. The trial has now been adjourned until June 10. AP has more.

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