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Iraqi tribunal gives 'Chemical Ali' second death sentence for Shiite killings

[JURIST] The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal [governing statute, PDF] on Tuesday sentenced Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali," to death for his involvement in the repression of Shiites in southern Iraq during the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Al-Majid was charged [JURIST report] last year with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in violence against Shiite protesters following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Al-Majid had denied the charges [JURIST report] and argued that Shiites killed by his troops were insurgents, not civilians. The tribunal sentenced Al-Majid to death by hanging. Abdelghani Abdul Ghafor al-Ani, the head of Saddam's Baath party in southern Iraq at the time of the killings, was also sentenced to death. Several other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Last month, Al-Majid was one of 16 former Baath party officials to face trial [JURIST report] for the violent suppression of a riot following the alleged assassination of Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. Al-Majid has already been sentenced to death for the killing of Kurdish Iraqis using chemical weapons during the 1988 Anfal campaign [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. His death sentence in the Anfal case was upheld on appeal last September, but Iraq's Presidency Council did not approve the execution [JURIST reports] until late February. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government said in early March that al-Majid would not be executed [JURIST report] until the Presidency Council approved the death sentences of al-Majid's two co-defendants in that case.

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