[JURIST] Salem Chalabi, former head of the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) [official website; JURIST news archive] that will open the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] next week, has warned that a proposed bill to amend the tribunal's practices could actually weaken its power and limit international involvement. According to Chalabi, the IST's current statutes were drafted with the intention of conforming to established international practices, but the proposed changes being considered by the Iraqi National Assembly would institute practices that mirror Iraqi criminal courts. He also warned that the long term effects beyond the Hussein trial would be to reduce the validity of the tribunal without protecting the rights of the person on trial. Chalabi headed the IST from its founding in October 2003 until he stepped down in September 2004 under implications in the killing [JURIST news report] of a finance official. He has subsequently been cleared of all charges. Earlier this week, a UN human rights expert released a report [text] saying that the IST does not meet international standards [JURIST report] and calling for the tribunal to be replaced by an independent UN body. Tuesday's Washington Times has more.