An entrepreneur imprisoned for supplying former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with chemical-weapon materials yesterday had his appeal request rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Feb. 6, 2008).
Frans van Anraat received a 15-year sentence in 2005 for sales of a component of mustard agent, which the one-time regime in Baghdad is believed to have used in attacks that included the 1988 mass killing of 5,000 Kurds in Halabja. An appeals court in 2007 extended Anraat's sentence by two years, and the Dutch Supreme Court in 2009 turned down his attempt to have the case overturned.
Anraat argued to the European court that he should not have been charged with supporting the Iraqi regime because it operated within an independent state outside the jurisdiction of the Dutch judicial system. The European court rejected the argument, noting Anraat failed to put it forward in appealing the case in the Netherlands.
The court also rejected the businessman's contention that he had been prosecuted under Dutch war crimes rules too vague to check for compliance with international law.
Anraat understood the implications of providing the Iraqi regime with thiodiglycol, a critical ingredient in mustard agent, the court ruled.
"There was nothing unclear about the criminal nature of the use of mustard gas either against an enemy in an international conflict or against a civilian population in border areas affected by an international conflict," the court said in a statement (Agence France-Presse/Expatica.com, July 20)