Witnesses Confirm Deliberate Poison Gas Supply To Saddam.

The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) says it has witnesses who confirm that Frans van Anraat knew that he was not allowed to supply chemical substances to Iraq. The Dutch businessman is accused of involvement in genocide. On Friday, the second pro-forma session in his case took place at the district court in The Hague.

American dealers in chemical products have stated to the OM that the Dutchman was aware of the export ban on chemical materials for Iraq and that he deliberately tried to evade this. Another witness has stated that a bank director helped Van Anraat with these deceptive constructions, said prosecutor F. Teeven. He reported that a further financial investigation of the businessman has been launched.

The OM accuses Van Anraat of complicity in war crimes in Iran and Iraq. The OM suspects the Dutchman of supply thousands of tonnes of raw materials for chemical weapons to the former regime in Iraq between 1984 and 1988. Saddam Hussein is believed to have used the materials in the war with Iran and against the Kurdish population in northern Iraq. Thousands died in these attacks.

The prosecutor said the OM has questioned dozens of survivors of the poison gas attacks in the past few months. Victims of mustard gas attacks in Iran are still suffering the effects of these today, according to Teeven. A doctor has confirmed the connection between mustard gas and the severe bodily injury caused, he said.

Van Anraat's lawyer J. van Schaik unsuccessfully asked the court to release his client from preliminary custody. The case has been held over until 2 September, when another pro-forma session will be held. The substantive trial is likely to begin in November.

[Source: NIS News Bulletin, The Hague, 11Jun05]

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