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'Chemical Ali' executed by hanging

ALI Hassan al-Majid, the Iraqi general better known as 'Chemical Ali' for his genocidal gas campaign against the Kurds, was hanged yesterday in Baghdad. He was the highest-ranking member of the regime to be executed since his cousin Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows in 2006.

Against the backdrop of yet more deadly bombings in Baghdad, al-Majid was "executed by hanging until death", Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Government, said. One of the most feared leaders of a brutal regime, al-Majid oversaw the Anfal campaign in the 1980s to crush Kurdish opposition in the north of Iraq, culminating in the nerve gas attack on the village of Halabja in 1988.

More than 5,000 people died in the attack, three-quarters of them women and children, and thousands more were permanently affected.

Al-Majid's original 2007 death sentence for the campaign of murder and deportation of the Kurds had been delayed in a series of complex legal wrangles.


As the delays dragged on, the death sentences piled up against the former general. He was also given the death penalty for his part in crushing the Shia uprising in the south in 1991 and for killing and displacing Shias in 1999 in the city of Najaf and the slum of Sadr City. Halabja earned him a fourth separate death sentence.

He was also in charge of the revenge massacre of Shia villagers after a failed assassination against Saddam in Dujail. The former president was executed for the massacre.

Al-Majid was sentenced to hang for Halabja just over a week ago. Unlike the debacle that surrounded the death of Saddam, who was executed to jeers and cries of support, the execution went ahead "without any violations, shouting or cries of joy", Mr al-Dabbagh said.

Al-Majid -- aged 69 at the time of his death -- held a number of positions in the former regime, including defence and interior minister as well as intelligence chief and, briefly, the post of military governor of conquered Kuwait in 1991.

He once chided his cousin that he was "too merciful". Al-Majid was the King of Spades in the "most-wanted" deck of cards handed to coalition troops after the invasion in 2003.

Al-Majid never expressed remorse for his actions, and only muttered, "Praise be to God" when the verdict was handed down. (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent