Replacement suggested for the resigning judge in Saddam trial

The chief judge who resigned from handling the Saddam Hussein trial is expected to be replaced by his deputy, the top Iraqi investigator in the case said Tuesday. Judge Raid Juhi, who tried the toppled Iraqi leader before his trial started, said the resignation of Rizgar Mohammed Amin had not yet been officially accepted, but his expected departure would be filled by the second-ranking judge trying the case, Saad al-Hamash.

Juhi said the law governing the court set up to try Hussein and seven co-defendants prescribed that if the chief judge is to be replaced, his position should be taken over by his deputy.

"I think al-Hamash will take over temporarily until he is appointed through an official notice, but the resignation of Rizgar (Amin) has not been officially accepted and if he changes his mind, he will be back in his post," Juhi told The Associated Press.

The tribunal overseeing the Saddam investigations said Amin wanted to quit for "personal reasons" and not because of government pressure, but his move would not prevent the Jan. 24 resumption of the trial as scheduled.

Amin became fed up with criticism that he let the proceedings spin out of control, a court official said Saturday.

Saddam has often grabbed the spotlight during the nearly 3-month-old trial, railing at Amin, refusing to show up at one session, claiming he was tortured and openly praying in court when the judge would not allow a recess.

Saddam and the other defendants are charged in the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims from the town of Dujail who were killed in retaliation for a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam.

Conviction could bring a sentence of death penalty, reports the AP.


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