Iraq executes 'Chemical Ali'

Iraq on Monday executed Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the widely known as "Chemical Ali", for crimes against humanity.

Iraq executes 'Chemical Ali'

Iraq on Monday hanged Ali Hassan al-Majeed, Saddam Hussein's cousin known as "Chemical Ali", for crimes against humanity including the gassing of thousands of Kurds and violent crackdowns on Shi'ite revolts.

Majeed's execution was announced shortly after suicide bombers struck the Iraqi capital in a coordinated attack, staging three car bombings aimed at well-known hotels in the city that killed more than 30 people and injured at least 71.

"The death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majeed has been carried out today," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said "justice has been carried out" against one of the "ugliest men from the previous regime and one of the bloodiest evildoers".

Maliki said Majeed destroyed entire towns and filled mass graves from one end of Iraq to the other.

Majeed, who earned his nickname because of his use of poison gas, was executed by hanging, a government statement said.

He had received death sentences in four cases, the last around a week ago for a poison gas attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja which killed thousands of people.

Dabbagh said in the statement that Majeed was not subjected to any abuse during the execution, unlike the insults heaped on the Saddam when he was hanged in December 2006.

It was not clear if Majeed was hanged before or after a series of suicide bombings close to hotels in Baghdad, some of them used by foreigners and journalists.

Iraqi Kurds and the leaders of their semi-autonomous northern enclave reacted with joy to Majeed's execution.

Mohammed al-Qaradaghi, cabinet secretary of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said it was "an occasion of happiness, especially for those who lost their children and loved ones."

But some questioned the timing before the election.

"I'm very happy with the execution. This is one of the few happy days for the Kurdish people," said Jeno Abdullah, a postgraduate student in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya.

But he said the hanging six weeks before the polls, and on the eve of the launch of the campaign period, was being used "for election propaganda".

Kurdish women's rights activist Shereen Kamal, 50, also questioned the timing.

"But anyway, even if the execution is late, it is better than never," she said in Sulaimaniya.

Majeed had a notorious reputation for ruthlessness in crushing Saddam's opponents and many Iraqis feared him more than their late leader.

Captured in August 2003, five months after U.S. forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam, he was sentenced to hang in June 2007 for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal, lasting from February to August 1988.

His final death sentence came on Jan. 17 for Halabja, when the Iraqi army used poison gas against Kurds. Around 5,000 people were believed to have been killed.


Reuters
Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 10:15
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