Saddam Hussein's notorious henchman is executed a week after he received a fourth death sentence.
Chemical Ali is executed
Saddam Hussein's notorious henchman "Chemical Ali" was executed today, an Iraqi government spokesman said, a sentence carried out around a week after he received a fourth death sentence. "The condemned Ali Hassan al Majid has been executed by hanging until death today," said spokesman Ali al Dabbagh in a statement. On January 17, Majid was sentenced to death for ordering the gassing of Kurds in the northeastern town of Halabja, one of the worst atrocities of late dictator Saddam Hussein's regime that killed an estimated 5,000 people with a deadly cocktail of mustard gas and the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin and VX. Three-quarters of the victims at Halabja were women and children, in what is thought to be the deadliest ever gas attack carried out against civilians. The conviction for the gas attack that came as the Iran-Iraq war drew to a close in 1988 was the fourth time that Majid, better known by his macabre nickname, has received a death sentence. Handing down the ruling, Judge Abud Mustapha al Hamani branded Majid's offences as "deliberate murder, a crime against humanity" when the verdict was delivered amid muffled applause in the courtroom. Majid's execution had previously been held up by legal wrangling. The first execution was due to have been carried out by October 2007 but delayed so as not to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan. A close cousin of Saddam, Majid earned his moniker for ordering poisonous gas attacks in a brutal scorched-earth campaign of bombings and mass deportations that killed an estimated 182,000 Kurds in the 1980s. He had already been sentenced to hang for genocide over the Kurdish offensives when in December 2008 he received a second death sentence for war crimes committed during the ill-fated 1991 Shiite uprising in southern Iraq. Last March, the Iraqi High Tribunal handed down a third death sentence over the 1999 murders of dozens of Shiites in the Sadr City district of Baghdad and in the central shrine city of Najaf. Majid was the King of Spades in the pack of cards of most wanted Iraqis issued by the US military in 2003 and was arrested in August of that year. * AFP