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Iraqi army leave canceled ahead of expected Saddam verdict

[JURIST] Iraq's defense minister Friday canceled leave for Iraqi soldiers and summoned all military personnel currently on leave to return to station in preparation for potential violence after the anticipated announcement of a verdict in the first Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] on Sunday. The order was given in a video of a meeting between top Iraqi military and civilian leaders released by the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile]. The same video showed Maliki criticizing the military for not stopping escalating violence in Baghdad. Maliki also mentioned implementing a curfew, but the Defense Ministry has not confirmed this measure.

Violence between Sunni Arabs and Shiites may flare after the verdict especially if it includes the death penalty for Saddam, an outcome which Maliki and many Shiites have supported [JURIST report]. The case, which involves charges of crimes against humanity committed in Dujail [JURIST news archive], will be decided by a majority of a five-judge panel from the Iraqi High Tribunal and will be subject to review by nine judges. There is, however, no guarantee of a Sunday verdict - last week the chief prosecutor for the trial said that a decision could yet be put off by a further two weeks in order to give the court more time to review evidence. AP has more.

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