[JURIST] An Iraqi court on Sunday began a new trial for 16 former Saddam Hussein-era officials, including Hussein cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] – better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali" – and former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The accused are charged 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. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty. AP has more.
In June, al-Majid denied his involvement [JURIST report] in the killings of Shiite civilians during the time of Saddam Hussein's regime. Al-Majid has already been sentenced to death for his role in the 1988 Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive] against the Kurds. The death penalties in that case have yet to be carried out. Al-Majid has also been accused of the killings of Shiites during a post-1991 Gulf War riot [JURIST report]. Earlier this year, Aziz was put on trial [JURIST report] for his involvement in the 1992 murders of several merchants accused of price gouging during a period on UN sanctions. No verdict has yet been rendered in that case.