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Iraqi judge says Saddam 'not dictator' as genocide trial continues

[JURIST] Abdullah al-Amiri, the Shiite judge presiding over the second Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive], said in court Thursday that he did not believe Hussein should be called a dictator, just one day after the prosecution requested that al-Amiri remove himself [JURIST report] from the case for reasons of bias. In an exchange with Hussein during the questioning of a Kurdish witness who claimed his family disappeared in the so-called "Anfal" campaign [HRW backgrounder], al-Amiri told Hussein "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." Al-Amiri rejected the chief prosecutor's Wednesday request that al-Amiri be removed for allowing defense lawyers to make politically-charged statements in court, saying that he had a long tenure as a judge.

Al-Amiri was named trial judge [JURIST report] in August of the second Hussein trial [BBC timeline], this one involving the "Anfal" operation that killed 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s. Hussein and his co-defendants are all charged with crimes against humanity [JURIST report] and Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile], known as "Chemical Ali," also face more serious charges of genocide. Hussein also is currently awaiting a verdict in the Dujail crimes against humanity case [JURIST report] for which he is eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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