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Saddam judges say disagreement over chief judge replacement caused trial delay

[JURIST] Two judges involved in the Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] said Tuesday that the real reason for the latest postponement of the hearing was a disagreement among the judges on the Iraqi High Criminal Court - formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] - as to who should replace chief judge Rizqar Mohammed Amin, who resigned earlier this month [JURIST report]. Court spokesman and investigating judge Raed Juhi told reporters earlier that the session would be put off until January 29 because "some witnesses are abroad" [JURIST report]. Speaking anonymously, the two judges said that some judges supported the appointment of new Kurdish chief judge Ra'uf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman while others wanted the reinstatement of Amin deputy and original designee Sayeed al-Hammash, a Shiite, who was suddenly removed after allegations that he had been a member of Saddam's Baath party [JURIST report]. Ra'uf Rasheed is said to have been patient and composed thus far in the trial. He was born in Halabja [Wikipedia backgrounder], the site of a 1988 gas attack by Saddam's army in which some 5,000 people died, including several of Ra'uf Rasheed's relatives. The attack is one of several crimes against humanity that Hussein could yet be formally charged with. The judges also complained of outside interference in the court. AP has more.

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