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Saddam genocide trial chief judge removed at government insistence

[JURIST] Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri was removed from presiding over the second Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] on Tuesday, Al-Iraqiya state television reported. A replacement judge, who has not yet been named, has been requested by the Iraqi prime minister. A government spokesman told Reuters: "We have asked the court to replace the judge because he has lost his neutrality after he made comments saying Saddam is not a dictator...The court told us he has already been replaced. This was a decision by the cabinet of the prime minister." Last week, Al-Amiri said in court that he did not believe Hussein was a dictator [JURIST report] the day after the prosecution requested that al-Amiri remove himself [JURIST report] from the case for reasons of bias. Al-Amiri was named trial judge [JURIST report] in August of the second Hussein trial [BBC timeline], this one involving the so-called "Anfal" campaign [HRW backgrounder] that killed 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Earlier on Tuesday, three Kurd witnesses testified in court concerning chemical attacks that took place during the "Anfal" operation, with al-Amiri at one point banging his gavel to wake up a defense lawyer [Reuters] he accused of dozing off during the proceeding. 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 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]. AFP has additional coverage.

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