ERBIL, Iraq, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq rejected a sentence for Ali Hassan al-Majid, or Chemical Ali, saying he should be charged with genocide.
An Iraqi high court during the weekend sentenced Majid to death by hanging for his role in the so-called Halabja massacre in 1988.
Majid was sentenced to death by hanging for orchestrating the massacre, where an estimated 5,000 people were killed by chemical gas attacks in the Kurdish city of Halabja, earning Majid his nickname, "Chemical Ali."
Other former officials on trial for the Halabja massacre received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years for crimes against humanity.
Majid Hamad Amin Jamil, the minister of martyrs for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, said Kurdish officials felt justice was served, though they protested the sentence.
"After consulting the attorneys, we believe the individual verdicts are fair but we have reservations about the charge of 'crime against humanity' because we consider the gassing of Halabja, which killed more than 5,000, an act of genocide against the Kurdish people," he said. "We have decided to appeal the resolution."
Meanwhile, Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister during the 1990 Gulf War, suffered a stroke in his prison cell during the weekend.
His son Ziad said his 73-year-old father "completely lost his speech" and collapsed in his prison cell in Baghdad where in 2009 he had begun a 15-year sentence for his role in the execution of 42 Iraqi merchants.