Cynical Frans

25 July 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On 10 July, a District Court in The Hague extended the custody of Dutch businessman Frans van Anraat for a second three-month period (see IJT-17). The 62-year-old is charged with complicity to commit genocide and war crimes for supplying Saddam Hussein's regime with substances that were allegedly used to produce chemical weapons.

Van Anraat is charged with selling the chemical products to Iraq over a four-year period, from 19 April 1984 to 25 August 1988. The gas attack on residents of the north-eastern town of Halabja, which killed at least 5,000 and injured many more, took place in April 1988. Although Van Anraat is not charged with delivering the chemicals in the full knowledge of what was happening in Halabja, the prosecutor said that the businessman had not seen fit to recall a shipment that was already under way when the massacre was taking place. Three others cited in the indictment but not on trial in The Netherlands include former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, or "Chemical Ali", and one-time Oil minister Hussein Kamal Hassan Al- Majid.

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