January 28, 2005


Dutch court to free 'Saddam's chemical fixer' (Ian Traynor, January 29, 2005, The Guardian)

An appeal judge in The Hague has ordered the release of a Dutch businessman accused of supplying the chemicals to Saddam Hussein that enabled him to gas the Kurds.

The ruling is a setback for Dutch prosecutors seeking to bring their first case of involvement in genocide.

Frans van Anraat was arrested six weeks ago on suspicion of complicity in genocide. He is accused of supplying the chemicals that enabled the Iraqi dictator to make the mustard gas with which he killed and maimed thousands of Kurds in attacksin 1988. About 5,000 were killed in the town of Halabja alone.

Mr Van Anraat, 62, has never denied supplying the chemicals, but says he did not know what they were to be used for.

Officials and lawyers involved in the case say that the judge's decision reflects judicial reluctance to pursue such cases.

After a year-long investigation, the Dutch authorities arrested Mr Van Anraat early last month at his canal-side house in west Amsterdam.

US customs had Mr Van Anraat on their most wanted list for several years, and had issued an international arrest warrant for him alleging that he provided Saddam with 538 tonnes of a chemical solvent called thiodiglycol, or TDG, which is used in the textile industry and is also the main ingredient in the manufacture of mustard gas.

The Dutch say they have information indicating that Mr Van Anraat supplied more chemicals than the Americans suspect.

What? You didn't think the Europeans meant anything they said at Auschwitz yesterday, did you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2005 9:03 PM

He was just following [shipping] orders.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2005 10:51 PM

I think they meant the things they said under their breath. Like, We will complete your work Fuhrer.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 28, 2005 11:19 PM

Here is a case where one kidnapping (to the US, for trial) or even a pair of cement boots would provide loads of deterrence.

Posted by: ratbert at January 29, 2005 9:44 AM

We are indeed fortunate to live at a time when people interested in math, science, music, literature, culture, finance, engineering, business, etc need no longer look to Europe for inspiration or opportunity. The increasing wealth of East Asia and South Asia and the liberalization of Latin America are a godsend for Americans, and anyone else who loves freedom.

It is long since time to regard Europe for what it is, a cemetary with a few good restaurants and museums.

Posted by: Bart at January 29, 2005 12:19 PM