Iraqi Special Tribunal

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The Iraq Special Tribunal is a body established under Iraqi national law to try Iraqi nationals or residents accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious crimes committed between 1968 and 2003. It is organising the trial of Saddam Hussein and other members of his Baath Party regime.

The Tribunal was set up by a specific Statute issued under the Coalition Provisional Authority and now reaffirmed under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Interim Government. The Transitional Administrative Law [TAL] promulgated by the Iraq Governing Council before the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty preserves and continues the Iraq Special Tribunal Statute in force and effect.

The Tribunal is responsible for the trial of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid (also known as "Chemical Ali"), former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, former deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and other former senior officials in the deposed Ba'athist regime. The Tribunal follows standard Iraqi custom in applying the Continental or Civil law system, in which crimes are investigated by Tribunal Investigative Judges rather than police officers, and trials will be heard before panels of five Trial Judges, rather than the Anglo-American common law jury. One of the Tribunal Investigative Judges is Ra’id Juhi, who was also a local magistrate under the Baathist regime, and who arraigned Saddam Hussein and eleven other defendants in July 2004. The arraignments, which were nothing more than confirming the identities of the defendants and informing them that they were the subjects of formal criminal investigation by the Tribunal, became necessary upon the transition and transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government. Iraqi court proceeedings thereby became the formal domestic legal basis for detaining the defendants rather than any military necessity.

The Tribunal has declared it will adhere to standards of international law in compliance with the sovereign law of Iraq.



One of the Tribunal Investigative Judges is Ra’id Juhi. Rizgar Mohammed Amin is one of the five judges hearing the Al-Dujail trial.


The tribunal has powers over any Iraqi national or resident accused of crimes listed in the Statute committed between July 17, 1968 and May 1, 2003. See the [crimes listed by the Statute].


The tribunal has Trial chambers (each with five judges), an Appeals chamber with nine members, investigative judges, and departments for prosecution and administration. Subsequent Iraqi governments can appoint non-Iraqi judges.

Current investigations

The Special Tribunal is investigating the crimes of Al-Anfal in 1988 and during the 1991 uprising. The judges issued arrest warrants against these persons for crimes against Kurds in 1988:

The judges also issued arrest warrants against these persons for crimes in 1991:

In 2005 June the judges had investigated crimes in 1990, ethnic crimes in the city of Kirkuk (aka Karkok), and crimes against Faili Kurds, questioning these accused:

In late June the judges had investigated Tariq Aziz concerning the events of 1991.

The judges also questioned these persons concerning the use of chemical weapons in the al-Anfal Campaign:

The judges questioned these persons on various events:

Current cases

The Special Tribunal is currently trying eight defendants in the Al-Dujail trial.

General Director

The tribunal was initially led by Salem Chalabi a former exile and relative of Ahmed Chalabi. Critics pointed to Salem's lack of experience and close ties to Iraqi dissidents, questioning US motives in his appointment. However, as his uncle Ahmed Chalabi fell from US favour in August 2004, warrants were issed for their arrest while they were both out of Iraq. Some saw this as an attempt to remove them from Iraqi politics. On September 19, 2004 the New York Times quoted Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as saying that he had received Salem's resignation. [1] Speculation immediately started on who would replace Salem; names mentioned include Taleb al-Zubaidi and Naim al-Oukaili. On October 4, 2004, the Iraqi National Council approved the nomination of Judge Ammar al-Bakri, who becomes the new Administrator of the Special Tribunal. Upon the installation of the full complement of nine Appellate Judges for the Tribunal, the Appellate Judges will select a President, who will then become the formal leader of the Tribunal. The full Tribunal will then proceed to adopt and enact Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence governing the proceedings of the Tribunal.


Many international human-rights law groups have opposed the Tribunal (pro-American voices have said this is because they felt excluded from the process of its creation), they had wished to see international (non-Iraqi) lawyers empaneled on the Tribunal, and they also object to the availability of the death penalty under Iraqi law.

Other legal groups and the UN have protested that Saddam Hussein should have been arraigned before a UN court, similar to the War Crimes Court at Aruja for the Rwanda genocide. Many European voices have said that Saddam should appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Amsterdam.

The normal principle of international law, however, has been to rely first on the domestic national court capability of a country before turning to the extraordinary creation of international tribunals. The Iraqis as well view the Tribunal as a matter of pride and sovereignty and it shows that they can govern and judge themselves. International legal experts argued for Saddam to be tried outside the country as it is believed that he will not receive a fair trial under inexperienced judges who have been long standing enemies of him and his regime. Following the re-introduction of capital punishment, the Iraqi interim PM Iyad Allawi gave assurances that he would not interfere with the trial and would accept any court decisions, although some of his comments are open to mis-interpretation: "As for the execution, that is for the court to decide — so long as a decision is reached impartially and fairly." [2]

According to British journalist Robert Fisk, the judge, Ra’id Juhi, had indicted Moqtada al-Sadr of murder in April 2004, an important event in the growing Iraqi insurgency. After working as a translator, Juhi was appointed by Paul Bremer. Juhi, 33, is a Shia Muslim and had served for a decade as a judge under Saddam Hussein. [3]

Although officials had asked for the judge's name to be kept secret, allegedly to protect him from retribution [4], it was widely reported in the Arabic press, including newspapers in Baghdad. The only Western newspaper to refuse this kind of self-censorship was the British The Independent and was criticised by Tony Blair's government as a result. Ra'id Juhi had also given interviews and posed for pictures in the context of the Moqtada al-Sadr indictment.

See also

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