BAGHDAD (AP) – Saddam Hussein’s notorious cousin “Chemical Ali” was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging on Sunday for ordering the gassing of Kurds in 1988, killing more than 5,000 in the worst such attack ever against civilians.
It was Ali Hassan al-Majid fourth death sentence for crimes against humanity in Iraq. The previous three have not been carried out, in part because survivors of the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja wanted to have their case against al-Majid heard.
Relatives of Halabja victims cheered in the courtroom when chief judge Aboud Mustafa handed down the guilty verdict against al-Majid, one of the chief architects of Saddam’s repression and among the last to face trial.
Nazik Tawfiq, a 45-year-old Kurdish woman who said she lost six relatives in the attack, fell to her knees to pray upon hearing the verdict.
“I am so happy today,” she said. “Now the souls of our victims will rest in peace.”
In Halabja after the verdict, residents cheered and songs played from loudspeakers at a monument commemorating victims of the attack. Some in town visited the cemetery to remember loved ones who died in the gassing. The jubilation demonstrated again the deep-rooted hatred many Iraqis feel toward the former regime.