Skip to comments.'Chemical Ali' among latest Saddam aides questioned
Posted on 06/19/2005 5:38:43 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein's feared cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," has appeared before Iraq's special tribunal as it steps up the process of questioning former regime loyalists over war crimes.
Majid was one of eight aides to the former president to be questioned by investigators this week, officials said on Sunday, raising to at least 12 the number interrogated in the past 10 days. Majid last appeared before a judge in December.
The new Iraqi government, facing fresh elections by the year's end, is keen to put Saddam and others on trial soon. But officials with the independent Tribunal, set up 18 months ago, say the process cannot be rushed and no trial date has been set.
Majid, who acquired his nickname after Iraqi forces dropped poison gas on Kurdish villagers in 1988, was questioned on Thursday about the suppression of religious political parties and the killing and detention of Fayli Kurds, a Shi'ite Muslim minority among the mostly Sunni Kurds.
Also questioned on the same accusations were Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's former vice-president, and Saadoun Shaker, interior minister early in Saddam's rule, who was also asked about the killing of Shi'ite villagers from Dujail in 1982.
The killings in Dujail -- more than 140 villagers were killed after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam as his motorcade passed -- may be key to an early trial of Saddam, who was questioned about the incident himself a week ago.
Though minor compared to the genocide and crimes against humanity with which the former president may be charged, government officials say it may be easier to prove Saddam's personal responsibility for ordering the alleged retribution.
"Dujail is a discrete case and not as factually complex as some of the others," a source close to the Tribunal said on Sunday, explaining that made it easier to investigate.
Five Saddam lieutenants -- including Ramadan and Saddam's half-brother Barzan -- have already been questioned in connection with Dujail, along with three other Baathists.
Sources close to the Tribunal said that the investigative stage of the Dujail case could be completed within a month or so, at which point evidence would be presented to a trial judge who would decide whether the case goes ahead.
According to tribunal rules, there must be at least 45 days between the referral of a case to trial and the trial itself, but in theory if Saddam ended up being charged in the Dujail case, he could be tried before the end of the year.
Senior Iraqi officials have in recent weeks expressed their hope that Saddam will come to trial within the next couple of months, but the Tribunal has been adamant in saying justice must not be rushed.
At the same time, over the past two weeks the Tribunal has questioned around a dozen suspects and released muted video of several of them, including Saddam, being questioned, clearly keen to show it is pushing ahead with the judicial process.
Also interrogated this week with Majid was Abid Hamid Mahmud, Saddam's secretary, who ranked fourth in a U.S. list of the 55 most wanted figures after the fall of the old regime.
Mahmud was also questioned about the suppression of religious parties -- a reference to parties representing the Shi'ite majority which were forced underground by the 1980s.
Two other, less-well-known defendants were questioned on the "events of 1991," in reference to the suppression of Shi'ite and Kurdish uprisings after the Gulf War.
A further two were questioned about oppressing political parties, one with reference to religious parties, the other secular parties. Saddam's Sunni Arab-dominated Baath party eliminated all opposition including the Shi'ite Dawa Party and the Iraqi Communist Party. Many of their leaders were killed.
A video grab shows Saddam Hussein's feared cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as 'Chemical Ali', as he appears in an unidentified location before Iraq's special tribunal. Majid was one of eight aides to the former president to be questioned by investigators this week, officials said on June 19, 2005, raising to at least 12 the number interrogated in the past 10 days. Majid last appeared before a judge in December. REUTERS/REUTERS TV
The questioning should begin with a pair of rusty pliars firmly attached to a rear molar.
This image taken from video released by the Iraqi Special Tribunal Sunday June 19, 2005 shows Sadam Hussein's notorious cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as 'Chemical Ali,'. Al-Majid and the others were shown testifying before an investigating magistrate and signing statements. The IST did not say when or where the tape was made. It was the third such tape released by the tribunal this month. On June 15, the tribunal released a video showing the questioning of three former senior officials _ including Saddam's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim. Saddam himself had appeared on an earlier tape. No trial dates have been set for Saddam or any of the other former regime officials being held in custody. (AP Photo/Iraqi Special Tribunal)
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