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Saddam defense seeks disqualification of presiding judge

[JURIST] Lawyers defending former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], on trial before the Iraqi High Criminal Court, have filed a formal motion [DOC] seeking the disqualification of chief judge Rauf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile]. Abdel-Rahman began presiding over the trial [JURIST news archive] last month after his predecessor resigned [JURIST report] amid criticism that he had been too lenient during proceedings. Ramsey Clark, a former US attorney general and one of Hussein's defense lawyers, said Abdel-Rahman "is not impartial and has a manifested bias against defendant" and has "repeatedly violated standards of fair trial, human rights and basic due process in the courtroom." Hussein's lawyers are currently boycotting proceedings [JURIST report], calling for Abdel-Rahman to be sacked [JURIST report] and urging Hussein's court-appointed lawyer to quit the case [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

In a related development, Clark also said Thursday that Hussein may be allowed to meet with his lawyers, but added that the court has not yet confirmed the meeting. Earlier this month, Hussein's lawyers claimed they were being denied access to their client [JURIST report] and Clark said Thursday that the court had begun to refuse to allow visits in late January. Clark also said that he expects the court will allow Hussein's defense team to attend the trial when it resumes on February 28. AP has more.

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