Iraq executes Saddam henchman 'Chemical Ali'

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Iraq today executed Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the Saddam Hussein henchman widely known as "Chemical Ali", for crimes against humanity, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

"The death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majeed has been carried out," Dabbagh said.

Majeed, a cousin of Saddam's who earned his nickname because of his use of poison gas, was executed by hanging, the government said in a statement.

He had received four death sentences, the last about a week ago for an attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja in which thousands were killed.

Dabbagh said in a statement that Majeed was not subjected to any abuse during the execution, unlike when Saddam was hanged in December 2006.



Chemical Ali: a life in brief

(Reuters)

DEATH SENTENCES

* Majeed was first sentenced to hang in June 2007 for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal - or Spoils of War - after the title of a chapter in the Koran. The campaign took place from February until August 1988.

* In December 2008 he received another death sentence, this time for his part in crushing a Shi'ite revolt after the 1991 Gulf War. He was sentenced to death again in March 2009 for his role in killing and displacing Shi'ites in 1999, then for a fourth time in January this year for a 1988 gas attack that killed about 5,000 Kurds.

* Iraq's presidency council approved his execution at the end of February 2008 but legal wrangling held up the execution.

RISE TO POWER

* Like others in Saddam's inner circle, Majeed owed his rise to family ties to the Iraqi strongman, who came to trust few beyond his Sunni Arab clan based around Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

* He played a key role in the purge of the Baath party in 1979, when Saddam, formally installed as head of state, sat on the stage of an auditorium and watched "traitors" being led away to their deaths after their names were called out.

GULF WAR

* In August 1990, after the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam had appointed him military governor of what was deemed to be Iraq's "19th province" but replaced him three months later for fear his brutal reputation was strengthening the hand of Kuwait's allies.

* When a U.S.-led coalition expelled Iraqi forces from the emirate in 1991, Saddam appointed Majeed interior minister to help stamp out the Shi'ite rebellion sweeping southern Iraq.

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