LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – The man known as Chemical Ali for his role in gassing villages in northern Iraq stood up and identified himself as “the fighter, Ali Hassan al-Majid” Tuesday, during the first day of the trial for his role in suppressing the 1991 uprising in the south of the country.
Despite his feisty description of himself, the man often chosen by Saddam Hussein to carry out the darkest deeds of his regime — Majid has already been given eight death sentences for the crimes in Kurdistan — is now a shuffling old man.
He and some of his 14 co-defendants adamantly protested their innocence as their trial began, and at one point several lapsed into a diatribe that prompted the Iraqi judge to cut them off. They are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity: willful murder, persecution, torture and what amounts to unjust imprisonment.
Before sitting down in the front row of the dock among his co-defendants, Majid, a wooden cane in his right hand, walked meekly to his seat and spent much of the time bent over his notes. He wore a white headscarf, known here as a ghutra, and a disdasha. He stood up once to address the judge, gesturing right and left but producing no Saddam-like fireworks.
Majid is accused of being among the leaders of the brutal suppression of the uprising, which occurred as Iraqi armed forces engaged in a chaotic retreat from Kuwait. Saddam made a disastrous decision to invade the country, and his forces were routed by a coalition led by the United States.