Saddam's 'Chemical Ali' faces execution
Saddam Hussein's henchman, 'Chemical Ali', could be executed within weeks after receiving a death sentence for a gas attack on Kurds.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's cousin, was convicted of ordering the worst atrocity of his rule, gassing 5,600 people in the town of Halabja.
His 1988 assault is believed to be the worst use of poison gas ever against civilians.
He never denied the charges and was heard on tapes recorded at the time saying: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? F*** them."
Families of the victims burst into cheers at the sentence.
"I am so happy," said Nazik Tawfiq (45), who lost six relations. "Now the souls of our victims will rest in peace."
Majid has already received three death sentences -- one for genocide in directing the campaign against the Kurds, another for a massacre of Shia civilians in 1991 and again for the killing of more Shia in 1999.
The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is now expected to push for the hanging to be carried out before general elections in March, though Majid has the right to appeal.
He was at Saddam's side from his coming to power in 1979 to the end. In a film of the tyrant berating officials and looking on as those he named are taken away to be killed, Majid is seen standing at his shoulder.
In the film, he tells Saddam: "What you have done in the past was good. What you will do in the future is good. But there's this one small point. You have been too gentle, too merciful."
Majid was appointed governor of northern Iraq in 1987. He set out to destroy the Kurds, killing an estimated 100,000 civilians in the war with Iran.
Gas attacks grew in intensity, culminating in the bombing of Halabja on March 16, 1988.
Alongside Majid, former defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Taie was sentenced to 15 years in prison, along with a former director of military intelligence, Sabir Azizi al-Douri.
Taie was sentenced to death in the first trial to convict Majid, but the Kurdish president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, and the Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, refused to approve his execution.
Tariq Aziz, Saddam's deputy prime minister, has suffered a stroke in prison, his son claims. He is currently serving two separate jail terms for crimes against humanity. (© Daily Telegraph, London)