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Bringing justice to victims of international crimes

Frans Van Anraat

Found guilty of complicity in war crimes and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on 23 December 2005; sentence increased to 17 years by a Dutch Appeals court on 9 May 2007; sentence upheld but shortened by 6 months by the Dutch Supreme Court on 30 June 2009

Van Anraat was arrested by Dutch officials at his Amsterdam home on December 7, 2004, just as he was apparently planning to flee the country.

He was charged with complicity in war crimes and genocide.

On 27 December 2004, a court ordered his release, a decision that was quashed in February 2005, following an appeal by the prosecutor.

On 18 March 2005, during a pre-trial hearing in Rotterdam, Van Anraat requested to be released until the full trial opened in November. The court rejected his request and Van Anraat was ordered to remain in custody.
His trial started on 21 November 2005 before the district court in The Hague.

On the first day of the trial, a statement to the effect that Anraat did not know that Iraq intended to use the raw materials he provided for chemical weapons was read out in court.

Van Anraat's defence lawyers also brought forward the argument that the case should be dismissed because Saddam Hussein himself was on trial for war crimes in Baghdad. The court overruled this preliminary objection.

His lawyers also argued there was no convincing evidence linking the material that Van Anraat had supplied to chemical weapons used by Iraq and that he had stopped his shipments to Iraq after the Halabja attack.

In a potentially crucial testimony, a former Japanese business partner of Van Anraat, Hisjiro Tanaka, told the court that the manufacturers had alerted Van Anraat to the fact that the substances he was buying could be used to make poison gas.

Fifteen Kurds from Iraq and Iran participated in the trial as civil parties, claiming the symbolic amount of 680 Euros by way of compensation for losses incurred.

In its concluding arguments, the prosecution demanded a prison sentence of 15 years, the highest possible sentence for cases of complicity in genocide and war crimes.

From 9 December 2005 on, the defence counsel then presented its r case.

On 23 December 2005, the Court found Van Anraat guilty of complicity in war crimes. According to the presiding judge, his deliveries aggravated the attacks and constituted a very serious war crime for which the court imposed the maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

The court stated that the attacks against the Kurds had been carried out with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Kurdish population in Iraq, thus qualifying them as acts of genocide. Van Anraat however, was acquitted of the charge of genocide, as it could not be proven that he knew the genocidal intent of the regime.

The persons who had participated in the trial as civil parties were each accorded the symbolic amount of 680 Euros in compensation for losses incurred.

Defence lawyers appealed this verdict and requested an acquittal, arguing that the court could not find him guilty beyond reasonable doubt because it was very unlikely that the judges had the full picture of who was selling chemicals to Iraq at the time.

They also argued that Van Anraat's trial was inequitable because several witnesses, including Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali - for allegedly ordering poison gas attacks on Kurds,- were not called to testify.(see “related cases”)

The court began hearing the case on 2 April 2007.

On 9 May the Appeals court increased Van Anraat's sentence to 17 years holding that he was motivated by greed and repeatedly sold chemicals knowing they were being turned into mustard gas.

The Appeals court upheld the Trial chamber's decision that he was innocent of complicity in genocide. The Court equally held that the victims could not claim damages in the case, but a lawyer representing victims said she would launch a separate civil case, in order to include more victims and to obtain higher sums of money.

Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Fact sheet

Netherlands 2017 2017  - 2017 2017  - 2017
War crimes

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