Chemical Frans

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chemical Frans

I think I've mentioned this case before, but a Dutchman who had sought refuge in Iraq for 14 years is now being prosecuted for, among other things, continuing to sell Saddam chemicals that were used in the production of illegal weapons, even after the gassing of Kurds at Halabja in 1988. According to this article, the Dutch case marks "the first time a businessman has been prosecuted for war crimes by a national court."

I'm thinking that it might mitigate some of the political damage done by our refusal to ratify the ICC Convention if we could find some American patsy to try on similar grounds in U.S. court. After all, rumors here say that Frans van Anraat worked for the AIVD, the Dutch intelligence service; whether or not that's true, it makes me reflect that the U.S. government probably has plenty of former friends it could rat out as needed.

By the way, if the allegations against van Anraat are true, he violated existing export restrictions, which would take him outside my general reluctance to penalize businesses because of the uses to which foreign despots put their products. Unlike the U.S. case I mentioned in the earlier post, the Kurds who have filed civil claims against van Anraat are asking for only 10,000 euros apiece, which would barely cover filing fees in America (I exaggerate). If you want your heart broken, click here.

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