ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish lawyers with the aid of an American human rights law firm will present a court case in Halabja on Monday against European companies’ alleged supply and development of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program.
After settling the question of the Ba’athist regime’s hand in the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds “we have to bring another side of the matter into consideration, and that is [the role] of foreign companies,” Iyad Kakai, head of Kurdistan Bar Association (KBA) in Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
According to the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal’s second clause of Article one of Law number 10 of 2005: “The Tribunal shall have jurisdiction over every natural person, whether Iraqi or non-Iraqi resident of Iraq, accused of committing any of the crimes [such as] genocide, crimes against humanity, [and] war crimes.”
The law specifies “natural persons” as subjects to prosecution for the mentioned crimes which Kakayi describes as unfortunate as the law “excluded [companies] from a trial.”
“However, for the past 10 years, we have been working with American law firm MM ~ LAW. On March 13, we decided to file a lawsuit in Halabja’s Civil District Court and demand compensation from the companies that aided the Ba’athist Regime,” Kakayi added.
In a televised event on March 13, Attorney Gavriel Mairone, founder of MM ~ LAW, announced the lawsuit on behalf of survivors of the chemical attack that occurred in the city on March 16, 1988.
The suit alleged that several European companies “played a central role in a conspiracy to profit from enabling and assisting Hussein to carry out attacks that were later described as genocide and represented the highest concentration of lethal chemical substances ever used against a civilian population.”
Kakayi told Kurdistan 24 that he and Mohammed Salih Amedi, lawyers representing KBA, as well as Mairone and a French attorney will be present during the deposition in Halabja. He noted that the accused companies would not attend.
“The reason we chose Halabja as [the place] where we will be holding the hearing is that the case of the [chemical attack on the] city is known worldwide,” Kakayi explained.
An estimated 5,000 civilians were killed, and nearly 10,000 were wounded when the former Iraqi regime struck the city of Halabja, eastern Kurdistan Region, with chemical bombs containing mustard gas, cyanide, and sarin.
The main perpetrator was Ali Hassan al-Majid, known among Kurds as Chemical Ali, who was directed to carry out the attack by former Iraqi president Hussein. Iraqi authorities executed Majid on Jan. 25, 2010.
Shortly after, in March, the Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the massacre as an act of genocide.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Aras Ahmed)