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Iraq judicial panel rejects dismissal of top judge

An Iraqi judicial panel has rejected the Justice and Accountability Committee's recent decision to remove chief judge Medhat al-Mahmoud from office. The Committee decided remove al-Mahmoud [JURIST report] last over alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The judicial panel, which reviews decisions made by the Justice and Accountability Committee, did not find strong evidence of the alleged ties and rejected al-Mauhoud's dismissal [AP report]. Al-Mahmoud was chosen by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority as a supervisor for the Justice Ministry, and in 2005 he became head of both the Supreme Federal Court and the Supreme Judicial Council that oversees courts nationwide. In a separate decision earlier last week al-Mahmoud was removed from the Supreme Judicial Council so that he could remain head of Supreme Federal Court, as required by a new law.

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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