Conviction of Frans Van Anraat for Supplying Raw Materials for Mustard Gas to the Saddam Hussein Regime

During the 1980s Mr. Van Anraat supplied Saddam’s regime with large quantities of TDG for the production of mustard gas. The mustard gas was used against military and civilian people in the war against Iran and in an internal campaign against the Kurdish population of Iraq.

On 23 December 2005, the District Court in The Hague sentenced the defendant to fifteen years imprisonment. The defendant was found guilty as an accessory to violations of the laws and customs of war, resulting in death and grievous bodily harm. Both the defendant and the public prosecutor appealed.

The Court of Appeal upheld the defendant’s conviction on 9 May 2007 but increased the term of imprisonment to seventeen years. The Court held that:

  1. The defendant knew, at least from 1986 on, that his supplies of TDG were being used for the production in Iraq of poisonous gas and mustard gas, during a long-lasting war with Iran and he also knew that this poisonous gas would be used in this war;
  2. The defendant knew that he was supplying the means for actually using mustard gas in the war, due to his deliberate contribution to the production of mustard gas;
  3. The TDG delivered by the defendant was actually used for the production of mustard gas as ammunition, and was used during the attacks mentioned in the indictment;
  4. From 1985 on the Iraqi regime depended solely on TDG supplies by the defendant for its production of mustard gas, causing the on-going policy of the regime to use hundreds of tons of this poisonous gas per year, from 1984 on, to be continued.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the victims’ claims for damages, because their complicated nature militated against dealing with them through the criminal proceedings.

In cassation, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal judgement but reduced the defendant’s term of imprisonment to sixteen years and six months.

The victims subsequently launched separate civil proceedings. On April 24, 2013 the Dutch District Court in The Hague found Van Anraat liable and ordered him to pay 25,000 euros plus interest to each of the sixteen plaintiffs in the case. A seventeenth suit was rejected because of a statute of limitations.