Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Saddam Hussein's enforcer "Chemical Ali" has been sentenced to death for ordering the gassing of Kurds in the Iraqi village of Halabja, state television said. The Al-Iraqiya channel said Majid would be killed by hanging having been found guilty of the notorious attack in 1988 in the northeast of the country as the Iran-Iraq war drew to a close. The ruling is the fourth time he has received a death sentence.
An estimated 5,000 people were killed at Halabja, three-quarters of them women and children, in what is now thought to have been the deadliest gas attack ever carried out against civilians. A close cousin of Saddam, Majid earned his macabre nickname for ordering poisonous gas attacks in a brutal scorched-earth campaign of bombings and mass deportations that left an estimated 182,000 Kurds dead in the 1980s.
He had previously been sentenced to hang for genocide over the Kurdish offensives when he received a second death sentence in December 2008 for war crimes committed during the ill-fated 1991 Shiite uprising in southern Iraq. And in March last year, the Iraqi High Tribunal handed down a third death sentence over the the 1999 murders of dozens of Shiites in the Sadr City district of Baghdad and in the central shrine city of Najaf.
However, he is probably best known for the Halabja attack when in March 1988, Iraqi jets swooped over the village and for five hours sprayed it with a deadly cocktail of mustard gas and the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin and VX. *AFP