Vendredi 2 decembre 2005 à 15h48
THE HAGUE, Dec 2 (AFP) — A Japanese partner of Dutch chemicals trader Frans van Anraat testified Friday at his trial on charges of genocide and war crimes for supplying chemicals used by Saddam Hussein in poison gas attacks that Van Anraat knew the ingredients could be used to make nerve gas.
Van Anraat has admitted to selling the chemical components thiodiglycol and phosphorus oxychloride, both key ingredients in mustard gas, to Iraq but maintains that he was not aware of the use to which they were put.
In the 1980s Van Anraat acted as a sort of middle man, buying chemicals on the world market and selling them on to Iraq despite export bans in place.
Hisjiro "Charlie" Tanaka, a former business partner of Van Anraat who helped him get the chemicals from Japanese and US manufacturers between 1984 and 1988, told a Dutch court Friday that Van Anraat was told the ingredients he was buying could be used to make poison gas in the mid-eighties.
"All the manufacturers, where we bought the thiodiglycol, told us that it could be made into poison gas," Tanaka said.
The testimony could be vital to the case in showing that Van Anraat knew the ingredients he was sending to Iraq had a potentially fatal use.
Van Anraat told investigators that he thought the chemicals would be used in the textile and leather industry. However, experts testified during the trial that this use would not justify the thousands of tonnes he shipped to Iraq over the years.
Van Anraat, 63, is the first person to appear in court on genocide charges in connection with the 1988 poison gas attacks on the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq.
The massacre, which killed more than 5,000 people in a single day, also features among the preliminary charges against former Iraqi leader Saddam, currently on trial in Baghdad.
In addition Van Anraat is charged with aiding war crimes for alleged Iraqi chemical attacks on Kurdish towns in Iran.