By: Moustafa Badreldin
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate
Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, is days away from facing a June 2007 death sentence. Al-Majid received the nickname of Chemical Ali for carrying out the 1988 slaughter of over 5,000 Kurds in northern Iraqi town of Halabja with chemical weapons. The 68-year-old is a former spy chief and first cousin of Saddam Hussein. This is al-Majid’s fourth death sentence, making his execution now inescapable, according to Iraq’s Deputy Justice Minister. He was captured by American forces in 2003 and is being held at the U.S.-run Camp Cropper detention center. It is expected he will be returned to the Iraqis in a few days to face his sentence. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the closure of Camp Cropper himself. This facility and others in Iraq are working on transferring detainees to Iraqi forces. The agreement between U.S. and Iraq is viewed as a milestone of security progress. Both states involved are keen to end the system where suspected militants could be detained by the U.S. repeatedly with limited judicial redress.
The closing was scheduled for December 31, 2009. Camp Cropper, however, will continue to hold prisoners until August as Iraqi forces prepare for the transfer. According to Iraq’s interior ministry intelligence, Chief Hussein Kamal, the delay has been caused by a lack
of space in Iraqi prisons and limited capacity in its courts.
Saddam Hussein was held at Camp Cropper before he faced his own death sentence. Former Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, and other Saddam henchmen at Camp Cropper will be moved to a prison run by both Iraq and the U.S. in Camp Taji, which is north of Baghdad. Hussein and his loyalists belonged to the now defunct Ba’ath party. Current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, claims that former party members are a potential threat to the upcoming March elections.
Over 500 candidates have been banned from running due to their alleged ties to the Ba’ath party.