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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 15:22 GMT
Iraq court names new Saddam judge
Saddam Hussein is court
Saddam Hussein is due in court on Tuesday for the eighth session
The court trying ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has appointed a new presiding judge, a court official said.

He is Raouf Abdul Rahman, a Kurd from the town of Halabja, drawn from another court entirely, the official said.

He replaces former chief judge Rizgar Amin, also a Kurd, who resigned after complaining of government interference.

The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants is set to resume on Tuesday. They are charged over the 1982 killing of 148 people in Dujail.

All eight defendants deny charges of murder and torture.

If found guilty, Saddam Hussein could face the death penalty.


The appointment of Judge Abdul Rahman is an interim measure, investigating Judge Raed al-Juhi told reporters, while efforts continue to try to secure Judge Rizgar's return.

Judge Abdul Rahman, 64, has not previously been on the five-judge panel hearing Saddam Hussein's case.

He was born in Halabja where Saddam Hussein's security forces are accused of killing about 5,000 Kurdish Iraqis in a chemical gas attack in 1988.

The ongoing trial is not dealing with the Halabja massacre.

Last week, it was reported that the number two on the panel, Said Hameesh, would be promoted to fill the vacant chairman's position.

However, he quickly become the subject of complaints from an Iraqi body responsible for blocking members of the former ruling Baath party from public office. He denied that he was a member of the Baath party.

Because of security concerns, only Judges Rizgar and Hameesh had been identified as members of the five-judge panel.

The court is due to reconvene for its eighth session on Tuesday. Correspondents say Judge Rizgar's resignation and the uncertainty about his replacement him has damaged the court's credibility.

Judge Rizgar resigned after being criticised in the Iraqi media for appearing "too soft" on the defendants by tolerating their outbursts in court.


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