Iraqi court delivers guilty verdicts in Anfal trial

On June 24, a judge of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) delivered the verdict as the Anfal trial ended after ten months.  The defendants were changed with various crimes against humanity relating to the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988.  During this campaign Kurds were systematically murdered, tortured, detained, and displaced.  The number of Kurds killed during this year long campaign ranges from 50,000 to 180,000.  During the past ten months, the IHT heard testimony from survivors detailing mass graves, the use of chemical weapons, and mistreatment of detainees.

The defendants included:

  • Ali Hassan al-Majid – former Ba’ath leader in northern Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s cousin
  • Saber Abdul-Aziz al-Duri – director of military intelligence
  • Sultan Hashim Ahmed – military commander of the campaign
  • Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti – deputy of operations for the Iraqi forces
  • Farhan al-Jibouri – head of military intelligence in northern Iraq
  • Taher Muhammad al-Ani – governor of Mosul

** Prosecutors removed Saddam Hussein as a defendant following his execution on December 30, 2006.

Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his use of chemical weapons, received five death sentences for his role in the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988.  Defendants Ahmed and al-Tikriti both received three death sentences.  The IHT found al-Douri and al-Jabouri guilty of involvement in Anfal, yet these two defendants received life sentences.  The last defendant, al-Ani, was found not guilty based on a lack of evidence.

This verdict is the second verdict delivered by the IHT.  The verdict for the Dujail trial was delivered in November 2006, where Saddam Hussein received the death sentence.  Recently, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a briefing in which it listed the legal flaws of the Dujail trial.  Serious flaws include:

  • The IHT inferring from the defendant’s position in the government that he had the requisite knowledge and criminal intent; 
  • Failure to show the required lines of command and control necessary to establish command responsibility;
  • Using lower-level defendants’ status as Ba’th party members to prove intent without requiring evidence of individual criminal intent;
  • Allowing witnesses to testify anonymously and prohibiting the defense from questioning the witnesses; and, 
  • Failure to address numerous instances of same-day or late disclosure of prosecution evidence to the defense that was used at trial.

Also, HRW listed two additional concerns relating specifically to the Anfal trial.  First, on September 2006, the presiding judge was removed by the Iraqi president and Cabinet after he made statements perceived to be favorable to the defendants.  Second, the charges against the defendants were vague, making it difficult for the defense to properly prepare their cases.  HRW stressed that while the international community is continually working to stop human rights abuses and holding violators accountable, it is important that the methods used meet international law standards.

For more information on the verdict of the Anfal trial, please see:
The Independent:  “Chemical Ali: The end of an overlord”  25 June 2007. 

New York Times:  “Hussein cousin sentenced to die for Kurd attacks”  25 June 2007. 

BBC:  “‘Chemical Ali’ sentenced to hang”  24 June 2007. 

BBC:  “Timeline: Anfal Trial”  24 June 2007. 

HRW:  “The Anfal Trial”  22 June 2007. 


For HRW’s briefings on the flaws of the Dujail Trial, please see:
HRW:  “Dujail judgment marred by serious flaws”  22 June 2007.

HRW:  “The poisoned chalice”  22 June 2007. 

HRW:  “Judgement of the Dujail Trial at the Iraqi High Tribunal: English Translation”  June 2007.


For HRW documentation of the Anfal Campaign, please see:
HRW:  “Genocide in Iraq:  The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds”  July 1993.

Author: Impunity Watch Archive

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