Dutch man sentenced for role in gassing death of Kurds

A Dutch businessman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling Saddam Hussein's government chemicals, which were made into poisonous gas and unleashed on thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

A Dutch businessman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling Saddam Hussein's government chemicals, which were made into poisonous gas and unleashed on thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

But the war crimes tribunal in The Hague found that Frans van Anraat, 63, could not be held responsible for genocide since the chemicals were delivered to Iraq before the mass killings began.

"All the deliveries took place before March 16, 1988; therefore, the defendant must be acquitted of complicity in genocide," the court said.

The date refers to the attack on the village of Halabja where about 5,000 Kurds were killed.

It was the first court case concerning thousands of Iraqi Kurds killed with chemical weapons. The court determined that the slaughter of the Kurds was genocide and the chemicals supplied by the businessman were essential to the making of the weapons.

"These attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq," the ruling said. "The court finds the intent of destruction was targeted against part of the Kurdish group as part of a genocidal intent."