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Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive: New Judge in Saddam Trial Announced | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi judge Said al Hamashi will preside over the high-profile trial of Saddam Hussein, along with seven former senior officials, in the Dujail case. He will replace Judge Rezkar Mohammed Amin who tended his resignation on Saturday.

“I have nothing to do with the reasons that drove my colleague Judge Amin to resign. I hope he returns to his post and preside over the remaining court sessions,” he told Asharq Al Awsat from Baghdad . If Judge Amin “insisted on resigning, I will preside over the next session as planned, as there is no need for it to be postponed,” al Hamashi said.

Al Amin was said to have resigned because of from government pressure

The trial is due to resume on 24 January.

“If a judge is absent, quits or is on holiday, this does not stop the course of the trial since there are others to replace him, as long as there are regulations to abide by. The important matter is to examine the case, the evidence and listen to the testimony of witnesses. The judge then has to do his job and follow the principles of justice and honesty, without being influenced by anyone,” he added.

Asked about how he would react in front of the former dictator, al Hamashi said, “I do not care that the person in front of me is a former president or Saddam Hussein or anyone else. What matters to me is to achieve justice and deal with any suspect in the same manner as I would with another suspect.”

Commenting on the reasons Judge Amin wanted to quit the trial, Judge al Hashemi said, “I do not know the reasons. You should ask my colleague Judge Amin himself. If the reason was that they want a forceful judge, this should be left for the judge himself to decide. The judge should not be forceful because he will lose his objectivity. A judge should remain calm in order to follow the case and issue a just sentence.”

On whether Saddam Hussein exploited the trial to make political statements, Judge al Hashemi said, “Tomorrow you will see how the trial sessions will proceed. I do not want to anticipate matters. I will preside over the trial according to the rules and regulations and the law. This system is known in legal circles in Iraq and elsewhere. The matter can withstand a few tactical differences or methods but the general basis of the law should be implemented in its usual manner. I do not care who is on trial.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the tribunal indicated that Judge Amin’s insisted on quitting because he had grown tired of the interference of political and government Shiaa elements in the trial. In his opinion, such interference and criticism contradicted the integrity of the law and the work of the judge.

A source revealed that the Iraqi president Jalal Talbani had not become involved in the issue and believed might return to his post if the president were to ask him.

“Frantic attempts and long discussions have taken place in order to dissuade Judge Amin from resigning and to continue presiding over the trial in order to issue the final sentence in the Dujail affair.”