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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 18:50 GMT
'New chairman' for Saddam trial
Judge Rizgar Amin talks to colleague Said Hameesh,
Judge Amin has become the face of the court for TV viewers worldwide
The trial of Saddam Hussein will resume next week without chief judge Rizgar Amin, who submitted his resignation last week, court officials say.

A replacement has not been named yet, but officials indicated Said Hameesh, the most senior remaining judge on the panel of five, would preside.

"Rizgar will not be present at the 24 January hearing," a source said.

The judge asked to be excused last week after complaining of government interference in the case.

Judge Rizgar, who has been criticised in the Iraqi media for appearing "too soft" on the defendant, has not spoken publicly about his resignation.

The Kurdish judge is overseeing the trial of Saddam Hussein and seven former members of his regime over the killing of 148 people in Dujail in 1982. The defendants all deny the charges.

The prime minister's office said his resignation had not yet been accepted and colleagues have been trying to persuade him to reconsider.

Judge Rizgar is the much-televised face of the court, which has held seven sessions to date, and it is thought his absence could damage the court's credibility.

BBC world affairs editor John Simpson described Judge Rizgar is a polite, highly intelligent man who has not lost control of his court, despite being lenient with Saddam Hussein and co-defendant Barzan al-Tikriti.

Mr Hameesh is the only other judge to have allowed his picture to be shown on television, sitting to Mr Amin's right. However, he has not until now had his name published.

"It will be up to the head of the Iraq High Tribunal to make the appointment," said a court official quoted by AFP news agency.


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