Iraq: 'Chemical Ali' ineligible for official pardon

Baghdad, 16 Oct. (AKI) - Ali Hassan al-Majid, the former Iraqi defence minister held responsible for Saddam Hussein's genocide against the Kurdish people, known as al-Anfal (the Spoils), seems certain to be executed.

Ali, also known as 'Chemical Ali', was found guilty of conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds - including chemical weapons and mass executions at the end of the first Persian Gulf war in 1991.

Human rights groups estimate up to 100,000 people perished in the campaign.

Iraq's chief prosecutor, al-Anfal Munqidh Al Firaoun, told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Tuesday no-one in the country had the legal power to cancel or modify the death penalty issued against Ali.

Ali, a first cousin of Saddam's, received five death sentences for genocide and crimes against humanity when he was convicted on 24 June this year.

According to the ruling, he was supposed to be executed within 30 days, but no date has yet been set for his execution.

In an exclusive interview with AKI, al-Firaoun said under the Iraqi constitution the president, on the advice of the prime minister, had the power to modify the death penalty for certain crimes but not for genocide.

"The execution of the sentence was postponed during Ramadan and Eid, but we hope that it will happen quickly," he told AKI.

"Setting a date for the execution is up to the executive and not the judiciary or the criminal court, which has not yet received any communication or anything in writing related to it."

As well as Ali, two others were also condemned to death for the Kurdish campaign - Sultan Hashem Ahmed, military commander of the Anfal campaign and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, deputy general commander of the Iraqi army.

Iraqi president Jalai Talabani and vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi are reportedly opposed to the execution of the former Baathist defence minister and have generated broad debate about it in political and judicial circles.



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