BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of Saddam Hussein's most feared deputies, better known as "Chemical Ali," will be the first leader of the former regime to be tried for war crimes, Iraq's defense minister said on Wednesday.
The trial could begin as early as next week, Defense Minister Hazim al-Shaalan told reporters through an interpreter, and would certainly start by the middle of January -- days before Iraq is due to hold its first post-Saddam election.
"In the next few days we will have the trial of Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the close followers of Saddam Hussein," Shaalan announced. "He will be the first to be tried."
Majid, who is accused of some of the worst crimes committed during Saddam's decades in power, including the gassing of up to 5,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the late 1980s, is the only one of Saddam's deputies so far set for trial, Shaalan said.
This evil SOB also served as governor of Kuwait during Iraq's occupation in 1990-1991. I think that it is a great idea to start the trials with Ali before the elections to reassure the Iraqi people as much as possible that the Baathists are never going to be allowed to return to power.