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Iraq court hands down fourth death sentence for 'Chemical Ali'

[JURIST] The Supreme Iraq Criminal Tribunal [governing statute, PDF] sentenced Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to death by hanging on Sunday, finding him guilty of having ordered the Kurdish village of Halabja gassed in 1988. The gassing of Halabja [BBC report], which killed 5,000 Kurds, was part of the wider Anfal campaign [JURIST news archive] against Kurds in Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime, and is considered one of the worst attacks on the ethnic minority. Though al-Majid, who is better known by his sobriquet "Chemical Ali," has the right to appeal, Iraq deputy justice minister Busho Ibrahim said that his hanging was expected within days [The Guardian report]. Al-Majid, who has already been sentenced to death three other times, has still more alleged crimes to his name, but those will not go to trial.

In March 2009, al-Majid received his third death sentence for his role in a 1999 killing of protesters [JURIST report] who rioted in Baghdad and Amarah following the alleged assassination of Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. 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 another killing of Kurdish Iraqis using chemical weapons during the 1988 Anfal campaign. His death sentence in the first 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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