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Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' Gets Fourth Death Sentence

Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali"
BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- An Iraqi court today sentenced Ali Hassan al-Majid, the Saddam Hussein henchman widely known as "Chemical Ali," to death by hanging for a 1988 gas attack that killed about 5,000 Kurds, a court official said.

Majid, a cousin of Hussein's who earned his nickname because of his use of poison gas, was convicted for an attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabjah. He already faces death sentences in three other cases.

"The decision has been issued today, January 17, to sentence Ali Hassan al-Majid, to death by hanging...for crimes against humanity," said Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin, the head of the court.

The Iraqi High Tribunal also sentenced former Defense Minister Sultan Hashem and former military intelligence chief Sabir al-Douri to 15 years in prison each for the attack, and Abd Mutlaq al-Jubouri, a former regional intelligence chief, to 10 years.

Majid was captured in August 2003, five months after U.S. forces invaded Iraq. He had a reputation for ruthlessness in crushing Hussein's opponents that won him widespread notoriety. Many Iraqis feared him more than the leader himself.

He was sentenced to hang in June 2007 for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal, that lasted from February to August of 1988.

Majid also received a death sentence in December 2008 for his role in crushing a Shi'ite revolt after the 1991 Gulf War and another in March 2009 for his involvement in killing and displacing Shi'ite Muslims in 1999.

Hussein was executed in December 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shi'ite men and boys following a 1982 assassination attempt.

About 290,000 people disappeared in Iraq under Hussein's rule from 1979 to 2003, according to estimates by New York-based Human Rights Watch. The Iraqi High Tribunal was set up after the 2003 U.S. invasion to try former members of his government.