- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

AMSTERDAM — Prosecutors said yesterday that they will charge a Dutch chemicals dealer as an accomplice to genocide and accused him of supplying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with lethal chemicals used in the 1988 gas attack on a Kurdish town that killed an estimated 5,000 civilians.

The suspect, who was arrested Monday in Amsterdam, will face charges that he violated “the laws of war” and had been involved in genocide, said Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutors said Frans van Anraat, a 62-year-old chemicals dealer, had been a suspect since 1989, when he was arrested in Milan, Italy, at the request of the U.S. government. He later was released and fled to Iraq, where he remained until the U.S.-led invasion last year. He returned to the Netherlands via Syria.

“The man is suspected of delivering thousands of tons of raw materials for chemical weapons to the former regime in Baghdad between 1984 and 1988,” prosecutors said.

Authorities in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Jordan helped in the investigation, and witnesses were interviewed in Britain, Denmark, Jordan and the Netherlands, prosecutors said.

In an interview last year with Dutch television program “Netwerk,” Mr. van Anraat said he had shipped materials to Iraq but denied any wrongdoing.

“This was not my main business; this was something I did in passing,” he said.

“Somewhere once back then, I got the request whether I could deliver certain products to them, which they needed,” he said. “And because I had a very good relationship with the [Iraqi] Oil Ministry and that’s where the request came from, I tried to see if I could do it. And that was successful, and we did deliver some materials.”

An estimated 5,000 people were killed and 10,000 were injured by the poisonous bombs that Iraqi forces dropped on the Kurdish city of Halabja on March 16, 1988.

The United Nations suspects that Mr. van Anraat was a major chemicals supplier to Saddam’s regime, having made 36 shipments, including mustard gas and nerve gas originating from the United States and Japan, prosecutors said.

The chemicals where shipped via Antwerp, Belgium, and Aqaba, Jordan, before reaching Iraq, the prosecution said.

U.S. customs found that Alcolac Inc., based in Baltimore, had sold 300 tons of thiodyglycol, which can be used in the production of mustard gas, to a front company called Nukraft, which in turn took orders from Mr. van Anraat. Alcolac has been restructured and sold.

Dutch prosecutors said Mr. van Anraat also used a front company based in Lugano, Switzerland, FCA Contractor. The company was liquidated in 1992, according to Swiss documents.

Thiodyglycol can be used in the production of mustard gas. It also has industrial uses in the textile sector, although not in the large volumes that Mr. van Anraat is accused of shipping. The U.S. government had banned the export of the chemical to Iraq.

Saddam is awaiting a trial date after being arraigned July 1 in Baghdad on charges that include the attack on Halabja.

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