Dutchman suspected of aiding Saddam in war crimes is arrested

A MAN suspected of helping former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein commit war crimes and genocide by supplying him with materials for chemical weapons, has been arrested by the Netherlands authorities.

Prosecutors said the 62-year-old man, identified as Frans van Anraat by Dutch television, was arrested at his Amsterdam home on Monday as he prepared to leave the Netherlands.

"According to the United Nations, the Dutchman is one of the most important middlemen in Iraq’s acquisition of chemical material," Dutch prosecutors said in a statement. "The man is suspected of supplying thousands of tonnes of raw materials for chemical weapons between 1984 and 1988."

The chemicals could be used to produce mustard and nerve gasses. Iraq used the weapons in the 1980-1988 war against Iran and against the Kurdish population in northern Iraq, including in the notorious attack on the town of Halabja in 1988, in which an estimated 5,000 people were killed, prosecutors said.

The man is suspected of complicity in war crimes and genocide. He will be brought before a judge later this week.

UN officials confirmed that the UN inspection agency for Iraq, UNMOVIC, and its predecessor agency, UNSCOM, had collected a detailed dossier on Mr van Anraat showing him to be an important middleman in supplying Iraq with chemical materials. However, they said these files had been kept confidential and they could not now discuss their content for fear of undermining the case against him.

The prosecutor, Digna van Boedzelaer, said the man could face a maximum of life imprisonment for complicity in genocide. "We are talking about 36 shipments which amounted to tonnes and tonnes of chemicals to make mustard gas and nerve gas," she said, adding the chemicals were sent from the United States to Belgium and shipped onto Iraq via Jordan.

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