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Interview with Judge Raid Juhi, President of the Panel Investigating Saddam Hussein. | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Judge Raid Juhi, president of the panel investigating deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and leading members of his regime, has affirmed that Saddam would be referred to a second court for trial in connection with other cases at the conclusion of the Al-Dujail case in which he is facing trial now with his aides. He said, &#34If the deposed president is sentenced to death in the Al-Dujail case in which he is facing trial before the first high criminal court and is executed, all other cases against him would be dropped.&#34

Judge Juhi told Asharq al-Awsat by telephone from his office in Baghdad, &#34From the legal standpoint and according to articles 300 and 304 of the Iraqi penal code, all cases are dropped if the accused died. The law does not specify the cause or reason of death.&#34 This means, &#34If Saddam is sentenced to death and the sentence was carried out, he would not be tried in any other case. However, this does not mean that the remaining cases would be dropped, because there are other defendants. These cases and the accused would be referred to court.&#34 Judge Juhi added, &#34If Saddam is sentenced to death and the sentence is not carried out–that is, he remains alive–he would definitely be referred to a second court on another case.&#34

Judge Juhi affirmed that the investigation has been completed into the chemical attack on Halabjah and the Al-Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds. He said, &#34The Al-Anfal case is a big one. We have completed the investigation, and the case was sent to court, which will set a date to begin looking into it.&#34 He said there are witnesses and firm evidence in the Al-Anfal case. The security authorities are looking for some fugitive suspects.

Responding to a question whether Ali Hasan al-Majid (Chemical Ali) or any key figures in the former regime had testified against Saddam Hussein in the Al-Anfal case, the president of the investigation panel said, &#34Many surprises would appear, and let us wait and see what the next trial would reveal.&#34

Another judge will reportedly preside over the next court that will look into the Al-Anfal case, which would be called the second court. In other words, the task of Judge Rezkar Muhammad Amin would end with the issuance of his verdicts in the Al-Dujail case.

Regarding the criticism leveled by some Iraqis about the style of Judge Amin in conducting the court sessions and allowing the deposed president and his half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, to make long statements, Judge Juhi said, &#34Each judge has his own way of conducting the court sessions and acts according to what he thinks is appropriate. No one, irrespective of his rank or position, can interfere in the work of the judge. He is the presiding judge and he decides how to conduct the court proceedings. He can allow a defendant to speak or keep silent. Others have no right to influence him or ask him to change his style in conducting the court sessions, because this would tantamount to influencing the course of justice. Iraqi courts are known for their honesty and fairness, and every judge is keen to safeguard his reputation as a just judge.&#34

Responding to a question whether Saddam and the other members of his regime, including Barzan al-Tikriti, had behaved in the same way during their questioning, Judge Juhi said, &#34As I told you, each judge has his own way and style in conducting the sessions.&#34 He said that the investigation panel he heads in the special criminal court is &#34continuing the investigation with the other members of the former regime in connection with other cases involving crimes against humanity and genocide, and that Saddam Hussein would be questioned in connection with cases other than the Al-Dujail and Al-Anfal.&#34

It is worth mentioning that the attempt to assassinate the deposed Iraqi president in Al-Dujail in 1982 was called &#34the deer blood.&#34 The reason for this name is that a resident of Al-Dujail had slaughtered a deer in front of Saddam when he emerged from the Al-Dujail district building. An old woman placed a handprint of deer blood on Saddam”s car. The gesture appeared then as a good omen, because the slaughtering of a deer was considered a sacrifice to God to protect Saddam. This is a popular Iraqi custom or belief. Whenever a citizen buys a new vehicle, a house, or anything like this, a lamb is slaughtered and its blood is smeared on the vehicle or the front of the house.

However, the old woman”s handprint of deer blood on Saddam”s vehicle was tantamount to giving a clear signal to those who planned to assassinate the former president that this was his vehicle, because the presidential convoy consisted of more than 12 vehicles of the same model (Mercedes) and color. This made it difficult for others to identify the president”s vehicle. The blood handprint was meant to distinguish Saddam”s vehicle. However, events showed that Saddam, who is known to have a high security sense or one of his escorts, may have noticed this move and decided to ride in another vehicle. Nevertheless, his vehicle was hit in the attack, forcing him to get out, mingle with the members of his security team, and flee from the site of the incident.

Hussein Kamil, Saddam”s son-in-law, who was just a member of the security team, had reportedly protected him with his body and was almost killed instead of Saddam, making the former president appreciate his readiness for sacrifice and agree for him to marry his daughter Raghad.