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Saddam trial chief judge to resign

[JURIST] A source close to Rizgar Amin [Wikipedia profile], the chief judge of the Iraqi High Criminal Court presiding at the Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive], said Friday that Amin would "withdraw" from his position, announcing his reasons at the end of the next trial sitting scheduled for January 24. Amin is said to have found the proceeding "too difficult." The 48 year-old Kurdish judge had developed a reputation for being courteous and even-handed to a fault, with critics accusing him of letting Hussein and his co-defendants run amok, railing at the court and otherwise disrupting proceedings. In late December, visiting US Senate Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter had publicly criticized Amin in his own courtroom [JURIST report], saying he was "disappointed" that the trial court under Amin's leadership had let Hussein be a "blusterbun and control the proceedings." Concerns have arisen about Amin's safety since the killings of two defense lawyers and an assassination attempt on an investigative judge [JURIST report] in December; Amin had accepted two bodyguards at the urging of friends [JURIST report] but had otherwise played down his security problems. Although Amin's resignation would be a major setback in the trial process it is not likely to torpedo the trial in and of itself; another judge resigned late last year and was immediately replaced by a backup. Reuters has more.

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