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Court hearing held in Halabja against foreign companies over links to chemical attack

Companies helped Ba'ath regime to develop chemical weapons
A monument in memory of the victims of a chemical weapons attack on the town of Halabja in March 1988.
2018-07-24

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SULAIMANI – Three people, a French woman, an American man, and a Kurd have become lawyers for the victims of the Halabja chemical attack in an effort to bring to justice 25 companies and people in seven countries over charges of assisting Ba'ath regime in producing chemical weapons during the 1980s.

The first court session was held on Monday (July 23) at the Halabja Primary Court, in the absence of the defendants, and heard claims that have been brought in the last four months.

A judge at Halabja Primary Court, Fariq Hama Salih, said the defendants have not been summoned yet and that formal legal proceedings against them have not yet begun.

“The introduced evidence requires additional review, thus the plea phase of proceedings has not yet begun. The defendants have not been informed of the charges against them and proceedings will not commence until the defendants are informed,” Salih told NRT.

The legal case concerns individuals and companies suspected to have been involved in the chemical attack and is part of a campaign by the Group of Halabja Chemical Attack Victims. The organization also filed lawsuits via a team of international attorneys in France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

The defendants are facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit. If found guilty, they will be fined $7 million for each family of the deceased victims and additional payments those who were wounded in the attack.

“Beyond condemning the companies, this case will serve as a lesson to others to not ever think about developing forbidden weapons. This will also provide compensation to the victims of Halabja chemical attack,” said Hoshmand Murad, a member for the Group of Halabja Chemical Attack Victim.

“This could also be a push towards introducing the case of the Halabja chemical attack as genocide,” he added.

In 2013, sixteen victims of Halabja chemical attack were each awarded $32,000 after they sued a European company over charges of assisting the Ba'ath regime in developing chemical weapons during the 1980s.

The use of chemical gas by Saddam Hussein’s Ba'ath regime in Halabja on March 16th, 1988 killed over 5,000 civilians, including men, women, and children and wounded more than 10,000.

The Ba’ath Regime attacked the city of Halabja using mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun, VX, and possibly cyanide, which all have the capability to suffocate and quickly kill people.

Poisonous fumes spread across the city, killing and injuring mostly civilians. Others managed to survive and escape into Iran.

Victims of the chemical attack suffer from the effects to this day, both psychologically and medically.

(NRT)