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Home >> World
UPDATED: 17:44, October 18, 2005
Saddam trial judges secretly trained in Britain: report
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The judges who will be trying former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Wednesday have been secretly trained in Britain in recent months, the Times reported on Tuesday.

The International Bar Association confirmed that it had helped train the 20 Iraqi judges who make up the Special Tribunal, including the five sitting for Saddam's trial. Training was also held for 23 prosecutors.

The project included simulated trials at which the judges were split over whether life imprisonment or the death penalty should be imposed.

Stuart Alford, one of the British barristers who helped with the training, said: "The judges are all very experienced and some have considerable experience as trial judges. They know they have a great responsibility upon them and they have a great desire to do the right thing."

However, he added, none had any experience of this kind of international law before.

Alford believed that, if Saddam were found guilty, the death penalty would be likely.

The training, run by judges and lawyers from countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, and the United States, was aimed at explaining international criminal law and how it could be seen in the context of the civil code system of criminal law in Iraq. The Iraqi judges were very keen to "set out why, as an Islamic country, they believed the death penalty to be entirely right," said Alford.

Saddam's main defense team will be absent at the trial opening and are expected to claim that the Special Tribunal appointed to hear the case has ignored basic legal procedures.

Abdul Haq al-Ani, the British-trained barrister appointed to defend the ousted Iraqi dictator, said he had been denied access to his client, that the defense had not formally received details of the charges and that the court had not answered one defense application in the past year.

"It is going to be a political show-trial," he said.

Saddam and seven members of his regime are to appear in court on Wednesday morning to face 19 charges of killing 143 Iraqi civilians from Dujail village of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

Last week, it was reported that British lawyer Anthony Scrivener has been approached to lead the defense. But both men will be in London when the trial opens.

Source: Xinhua

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