- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch businessman accused of complicity in genocide for selling chemicals to Iraq in the 1980s knew that Saddam Hussein might use them as weapons, prosecutors said at his first public hearing yesterday.

The case is seen as a landmark because it would be the first time a businessman has been prosecuted for war crimes by a national court.

Chemicals dealer Frans van Anraat, 62, did not speak at the hearing but occasionally shook his head to disagree with comments made by prosecutors. Judges ordered him to remain in jail pending a trial in November.

He has acknowledged that he sold chemicals to Saddam’s regime, but said his actions were neither wrong nor illegal.

Mr. van Anraat is said to have exported tons of chemicals between 1984 and 1988 that were turned into mustard gas and nerve gas, some of which was used in the 1988 attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, where more than 5,000 people died.

Prosecutor Fred Teeven said investigators had strong evidence that Mr. van Anraat “calmly went ahead” with delivering base materials even after the gas attack on Halabja.

“He tried to cloak his actions by lying about who the final buyer of the chemicals was,” Mr. Teeven said.

Several dozen expatriate Iraqi Kurds came to watch the proceedings, some carrying photographs of family members killed in the attacks.

One set up a red banner reading, “Halabja Never Again.” Prosecutors say evidence against Mr. van Anraat includes “official Iraqi documents” — material which also may be used against Saddam when he goes before the Iraqi Special Tribunal on war crimes charges.

Mr. Teeven said Mr. van Anraat was one of Saddam’s chief chemicals suppliers and possibly his only supplier after 1986.

Mr. van Anraat fled to Iraq in 1989 to avoid an extradition request by the United States, which wanted to prosecute him for export violations in the same chemicals sale.

He returned to the Netherlands after the start of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and has been under arrest here since December.

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