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Netherlands: Conviction Upheld in Saddam Hussein Chemical Supplier Case

(July 6, 2009) On June 30, 2009, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld a 2005 conviction of Frans Van Anraat on war crimes charges stemming from his business dealings with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (Judgment LJN: BG4822, Hoge Raad, 07/10742 [in Dutch], June 30, 2009, available at
.) Van Anraat, a Dutch businessman, sold Iraq 1,1000 tons of the chemical thiodiglycol; it was used in the 1980s to create the chemical weapon mustard gas. Iraq used that weapon in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), as well as in an attack within the country that killed 5,000 Iraqis. The sentence given in 2005 for the war crimes charge was 17 years; the Supreme Court, in upholding the decision, reduced the sentence by six months in compensation for the long wait involved in the court process.

Van Anraat had first appealed his original conviction for war crimes in 2007, to the Court of Appeal. When that appeal failed to overturn the decision, he took his case to the Supreme Court. At the same time, the prosecution appealed the part of the original 2005 decision that had found Van Anraat not guilty of genocide. A guilty decision on that charge would have added 30 years to the term of imprisonment. In upholding the original decision, the Supreme Court did not consider the issue of awards for damages for the victims of the chemical weapons attacks. (Andrew Morgan, Netherlands High Court Upholds Conviction of Saddam Chemical Weapons Supplier, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, June 30, 2009, available at