PARIS, June 11 (UPI) -- Iraqi Kurd survivors of a chemical attack in 1988 by Saddam Hussein are taking legal action against French companies that supplied poison gas, a lawyer said.
David Pere represents 721 survivors of the attack, which was ordered by then-Defense Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," Radio France Internationale reported Tuesday.
The attack was ordered against Kurds who had taken control of Halabja with Iran's backing during the Iraq-Iran war. Five thousand people died from the gas.
Pere, along with 20 of the survivors, were on hand Monday in a French court for the opening of the case, the broadcaster said.
"The French companies we have targeted notably made equipment for producing chemical agents, reactors and columns and steel tanks to contain toxic agents to be used to make gas," said lawyer David Pere. "We want the individuals and companies that knowingly helped Saddam Hussein's regime acquire chemical weapons which were used to commit crimes against humanity to be forced to face up to their responsibilities."
"We want the French courts to severely punish these companies," said victims' spokesperson Kamil Abulqadir Wais Mohammed, who lost an eye and suffers from lung damage. "And we want the courts to help the victims medically and economically. Many people who have survived the massacre and need medical attention don't have the money."
Pere said he plans to take action against other companies in Germany and the Netherlands.