Ali Hassan al-Majid, known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali", told the Iraqi High Tribunal Thursday that he did not use or issue an order to use chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels in the late 1980s. During defense closing arguments, al-Majid defended the government of Saddam Hussein for its actions during the "Anfal campaign", but insisted that he did not know who used chemical weapons, "if they were ever used."
Al-Majid and five other former Hussein-era officials face genocide charges for their alleged involvement in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds during the Anfal campaign. Defense witnesses have repeatedly testified that the defendants did not have access to chemical weapons and that no orders were received to use them. Prosecutors have sought the death penalty for Al-Majid and three other defendants and have asked that charges be dropped against one of the defendants due to lack of evidence. Al-Majid became the leading defendant in the trial following Hussein's execution last year. The trial has now been adjourned until June 10.