Saddam cousin admits giving orders to demolish Kurdish villages
"Chemical Ali", a cousin of Saddam Hussein on Sunday defended having ordered a military campaign against Iraqi Kurdish villagers in the late 1980s. Ali Hassan al-Majid earned his nickname for allegedly ordering the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.
Majid said he had not made any "mistake" when issuing orders during the campaign that saw thousands of Kurdish villages methodically bombed and men, women, and children killed. "I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and relocate the villagers," he said. "The army was responsible to carry out those orders. I gave the army instructions."
According to Majid, he was not defending his actions. "I am not defending myself. I am not apologising. I did not make a mistake," he told chief judge Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah, according to the AP.
His statement came after an Iraqi prosecutor presented what he said was documentary proof which linked the former defence minister to "chemical strikes" in Iraqi Kurdistan and orders for demolishing dozens of villages.
The prosecutor, who was not identified, presented a series of letters and telegrams he said were written by senior ministry officials of the former regime.
In one telegram, military intelligence officials in Sulaimaniyah, a Kurdish city in northern Iraq, told the eastern military command: "We would like to point out that a group of journalists visited the sites of chemical strikes. More such journalists are expected."
Reading from the documents, he also claimed dozens of villages had been destroyed on orders of Majid. "We have taken necessary steps to demolish villages as ordered by Ali Hassan al-Majid," read a telegram sent from a northern military intelligence official to the defence ministry. It added: "Please confirm more villages to be demolished."
The prosecutor also submitted a letter from the eastern command signed by an unidentified brigadier general that read: "We have demolished all villages by tanks."
Another document listed 21 villages demolished while a third spoke of "that village which was referred to has been demolished by chemical weapons".
In response, Majid said: "The orders were given as the region was full of Iranian agents. We had to isolate these saboteurs. We know that Iran had taken a lot of our land ... almost more than the size of Lebanon," he told the court.