A Dutch court ordered a former businessman to pay approximately $520,000 in civil damages to victims of chemical weapons attacks in Iraq. The businessman, Frans van Anraat, is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in war crimes committed by the regime of Saddam Hussein against Iraq’s Kurdish population in the late 1980’s. Numerous lawsuits have sought compensation for injuries allegedly sustained due to chemical weapons. They include claims by Iraqi Kurds and American servicemembers suffering from “Gulf War Syndrome,” allegedly linked to chemical weapons. U.S. law, through the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and other laws, may allow claims in domestic courts for injuries suffered abroad, as addressed in a recent Supreme Court decision.
Van Anraat sold chemicals to the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s. These chemicals allegedly included thiodiglycol (TDG), a solvent used in a variety of industrial processes and the production of chemical weapons like mustard gas. The Iraqi regime allegedly used chemicals supplied by Van Anraat to produce chemical weapons, which it used on civilian Kurdish populations in 1988, killing about 5,000 people. The Iraqi military also allegedly used mustard gas and other chemical agents on Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988.