Expatica news

Saddam chemical weapons ‘smuggled through Antwerp’

7 December 2004

BRUSSELS – Police have arrested a man suspected of smuggling material to make chemical weapons through Antwerp port to Saddam Hussein.

The Dutchman, detained in Amsterdam, who works in the chemicals sector, stands accused of transporting the ingredients for chemical weapons like those used with devastating effect against the Kurds in 1988.

According to Dutch public prosecutor Wim De Bruin, the businessman, 62, and identified by the name Frank Van A. (Anraat), is the first Dutch citizen to be charged with war crimes in connection with the former Iraqi dictator.

The Dutch authorities say van A delivered “thousands of tonnes of raw material for the production of chemical weapons between 1984 and 1988.”

The chemicals sold to the Iraqis could be used in particular for manufacturing mustard and neurotoxic gas.

Sources claim the suspect was fully aware of the final destination of the chemicals and what they were being used for.

Saddam Hussein has been accused of using chemical warfare against the Kurd population in the north of Iraq in 1988 and against Iranian villages during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.

“Chemical weapons were used to destroy the Kurdish town of Halabja on 16 March 1988, causing the death of 5,000 people,” says a document produced by the Dutch authorities.

The suspect allegedly covered his tracks by channelling money through a Panamanian company based in Lugano, Switzerland.

The raw materials came from Japan and the United States.

An American enquiry on the breach of the arms embargo to Iraq which began several years ago pointed to the Dutch connection that implicated van A.

The products were smuggled between Antwerp port in Belgium and Aquaba port in Jordan to the Iraqi dictator.

Van A was first arrested at the request of the Americans in Milan on 22 January 1989 but his detention was suspended two months later and he took refuge in Iraq.

He returned to the Netherlands after the fall of Saddam’s regime during the 2003 Gulf War.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news