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Iraq court gives 'Chemical Ali' third death sentence, acquits former deputy PM

[JURIST] The Supreme Iraq Criminal Tribunal [governing statute, PDF] convicted Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Monday of murder and sentenced him to a third death sentence, while acquitting former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Al-Majid, better known in the Western Media as "Chemical Ali," and a cousin of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, was convicted along with two other former Iraqi officials in connection with the killings of protesters who rioted [HRW backgrounder] in Baghdad and Amarah following the alleged assassination of Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr - father of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr [CFR profile] - by Hussein agents. Al-Majid remains in US custody, pending disputes [BBC News report] over arrangements for his execution and ongoing trials, including proceedings against him [JURIST report] for allegedly orchestrating a 1998 gas attack that killed 5,000 Kurds in the village of Halabja, and a trial for his alleged involvement [JURIST report] in the execution of thousands of political prisoners during Hussein's rule.

In December 2008, the Tribunal sentenced al-Majid to death [JURIST report] for his involvement in the repression of Shiites in southern Iraq during the Saddam regime. Al-Majid has also 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 in September 2007, 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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