Accessibility links

Saddam Nerve Gas Case Opens in the Netherlands

A Netherlands court has opened a pretrial hearing in the case of a Dutch businessman charged with complicity in genocide by selling chemical weapons ingredients to ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Frans van Anraat appeared Friday in a Rotterdam courtroom. The 62-year-old defendant is accused of exporting tons of chemicals that Iraq used to make weapons over a four-year period beginning in 1984.

Prosecutors say Saddam used the weapons in the 1988 attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed 5,000 people. Some survivors of the attack attended Friday's hearing.

A prosecutor told the court Mr. van Anraat continued to sell Iraq chemicals even after the Halabja attack. But the defendant denies any wrongdoing.

Mr. van Anraat fled to Iraq in 1989. He returned to the Netherlands after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Another hearing is expected in June, and the trial in November.

Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.