Dutch court orders chemical trader to pay Saddam gas victims

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A Dutch businessman who sold Iraq's former regime chemicals that were used in deadly gas attacks against Kurds in Iraq and in Iran was ordered on Wednesday to pay 400,000 euros ($520,000) in compensation to some of the victims.

The court ruled that Frans van Anraat must pay 25,000 euros plus interest to each of the 16 plaintiffs in the case.

Van Anraat is currently serving a 17-year prison sentence on charges of complicity to war crimes in relation to the chemicals he sold to Saddam Hussein's regime between 1985 and 1989.

The substances enabled the production of mustard gas used notably to massacre 5,000 Kurds in 1988 at Halabja, northwest Iraq.

The plaintiffs in the civil case sought compensation "for the damage they suffered as a consequence of the bombings with mustard gas on cities in Iraq and Iran in the 1980s, executed by the Saddam Hussein regime," court documents said.

"At the time of the bombings, the plaintiffs, all civilians, were living in one of the bombed cities. As a result of the bombings, they came into contact with mustard gas and therefore, were (seriously) injured."

Former chemicals trader Van Anraat was first arrested in Italy in 1989 on a United States warrant.

He later fled to Iraq where he lived for 14 years under an assumed name.

He remained in Iraq until US-led forces invaded the country in 2003, when he returned to the Netherlands, Dutch officials said. He was arrested there in December 2004 and has been in custody ever since.


© 2013 AFP

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