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Iraq chief judge removed from office over ties to Saddam Hussein

Iraq's Justice and Accountability Committee announced Thursday that the country's chief judge Medhat al-Mahmoud has been been removed from his office over ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The committee, which is responsible for removing former Baath party members, explained [AP report] that Wednesday's decision came after the parliament provided evidence supporting the allegations. The judge assumed his position in 2005 as the chief judge of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Federal Court. He now has 60 days to appeal the committee's decision or step down.

After the US invasion of Iraq and the execution of Saddam Hussein [JURIST report] in 2006, the Iraqi government has been prosecuting and sentencing former officials who were closely associated with the former dictator's party. In July former Interior Minister Mahmoud Thiab al-Ahmed was released from prison [JURIST report] after serving an eight-year sentence for his part in draining the marshes in Southern Iraq. A month earlier, Abid Hamid Mahmud, a former bodyguard and secretary of Hussein, was executed after he was sentenced to death [JURIST reports] by hanging in 2010 alongside former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and one other official. They were convicted of genocide in connection with his service under Hussein. The death sentences have led to controversy. Aziz, who was sentenced to death in 2010, sought a pardon of his sentence [JURIST report] after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said in an interview that he would not sign the execution order [JURIST report] for Aziz.

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