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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 17:57 GMT
Profile: Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman
Judge Rahman
Judge Rahman has a reputation for precise adherence to the law
Raouf Abdul Rahman, the judge who has taken over at the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was born in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja.

Halabja became famous as a symbol of Saddam Hussein's repression after his forces launched a chemical gas attack on the town in 1988, killing about 5,000 Kurds in a single day.

Judge Rahman lost some of his relatives in the attack, although not immediate family members.

But if he had any trepidation at facing the man responsible for mass killing in his home town for the first time it did not show.

At the opening of his first session in charge, Judge Rahman said he was not prepared to tolerate interruptions or speeches from the defendants.

He shortly after proved he was a man of his word - swiftly ejecting Barzan al-Tikriti from the court for doing just that.

This was a sharp contrast with his predecessor Rizgar Amin, whose careful handling of Saddam and his co-defendants was sometimes criticised as being too lenient.

Lawyer Tariq Harab, who worked with Judge Rahman in the 1980s, said this was a deliberate tactic:

'Serious and honest'

"Today, he is trying to correct the faults that accompanied the previous sessions. His seriousness shows that he is an efficient and controlling judge who refuses to turn the court into a field to exchange slanders," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

"I can say that he is an honest and balanced person," Mr Harab said of his former colleague.

Omar Abdel-Rahman, a lawyer who worked with Judge Rahman when he first became a judge in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish north in the 1970s, was of a similar opinion:

"He is a serious and honest person," Mr Abdel-Rahman said, adding "He is a man of principles, but sometimes he gets nervous quickly."

The 64-year-old judge trained at Baghdad University's law school, from where he graduated in 1963.

He worked as a lawyer in the capital Baghdad, then in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

He was appointed as the chief judge of the Kurdistan Appeals Court in 1996.

He has two sons and one daughter.


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