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Rights group claims independence of Saddam judges at risk

[JURIST] US-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], said [press release] Saturday that interference by Iraqi political groups may compromise the independence of the judges on the Iraqi High Criminal Court - formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] - conducting the Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive]. HRW claims the tribunal's judicial independence and even the fairness of its basic proceedings has been impaired by events such as the resignation [JURIST report] of top judge Rizqar Mohammed Amin [Wikipedia profile] amid criticism from Iraqi politicians and the transfer of initial replacement judge Sayeed al-Hammash [JURIST report] amid allegations he was a member of Saddam's Baath Party [BBC backgrounder], which he denies. Human Rights Watch also said that the non-appearance of several witnesses was another concern. The trial, which began October 19 [JURIST report], is scheduled to resume Sunday in Baghdad after a monthlong break that was extended when proceedings failed to reconvene as scheduled [JURIST report] on Tuesday. AP has more.

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