08/11/2012 RUDAW – WLADIMIR van WILGENBURG – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, who represents 16 victims of Saddam Hussein’s gas attacks against the Kurds in the 1980s, told Rudaw that she expects a ruling in 2013 against a convicted Dutch war criminal.
The victims, based in the Netherlands, demand 25,000 euros for non-material damages from Dutch businessman Frans van Anraat, involved in selling the chemicals to Saddam’s regime which led to the deaths of thousands of Kurds and Iraqis. The case was launched in 2009. Rebas Kadir, one of the Kurdish victims, told Rudaw that they are demanding compensation for the suffering they went through.
“Van Anraat is partially responsible for this, but I also know this money is nothing more than a symbolic amount, since he has likely hidden his money somewhere in a foreign country,” Kadir said. He added, “Apart from losing my entire family, I also suffer from severe health problems.” The 16 victims are not the only ones demanding money from van Anraat. Dutch prosecutors are asking that over €1 million of the profits from selling the chemicals be confiscated from van Anraat. However, Zegveld told Rudaw that she was not confident about receiving any compensation. “It seems there is no prospect of finding van Anraat’s money. It seems he has nothing. At least, the public prosecution can’t find it.” According to the Dutch court, van Anraat kept the mustard gas industry of Iraq running from 1985 to 1988 as a result of his chemical deliveries, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. He was arrested at the behest of the United Nations in 1989, but was released pending an extradition request from the United States. He fled to Iraq where he stayed until the fall of the regime in 2003, when he returned to his home country.
Van Anraat himself confessed to delivering raw materials to the Saddam Hussein regime on the television program Netwerk on Nov. 6, 2003, which resulted in a criminal investigation. He denied that his actions were punishable by Dutch law.
The Dutch court did not agree. Van Anraat was sentenced to 15 years in jail for war crimes in 2005. In May 2007, his sentence was extended to 17 years, with the court arguing he deserved a longer sentence due to his ongoing complicity in Saddam’s war crimes. Not all Kurds were happy with the verdict, since he was not convicted of genocide.
In 2007, Kurdish organizations in the Netherlands and the Campaign against Arms Trade demanded an investigation into the role the Dutch government played in the affair. They wondered how van Anraat went so long unpunished, but so far have not been able to find any larger agenda on the part of the Netherlands.Bakhtiar Bakr, a representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Netherlands, told Rudaw that he thinks it’s important that an investigation is done into the role of the former Dutch government and that the victims get compensation. “As the PUK, we try our best to make contacts in the Dutch political system to convince them to form a majority in parliament. But this is a process and needs time,” Bakr said.