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Hussein Judge Steps Out of The Shadows

As the chief investigating judge at the three-tiered tribunal, Juhi oversees the judicial teams that investigate allegations and determine, after hearing witnesses and seeing documents, whether there is enough evidence to prosecute. If that occurs, a defendant appears before a five-judge panel for trial. The tribunal's third level is a nine-member appellate court. When Hussein and 11 of his associates made their first appearance before Juhi in July, it was to be formally notified that they were under investigation. Last month, in another first for the tribunal, Juhi notified five former officials that he had found enough evidence of their participation in crimes against humanity to forward their cases for trial.

The case against Hussein, 67, is wide-ranging. At his appearance, he was accused of ordering seven atrocities: the use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988; the 1983 killing of members of the Kurdish Barzani clan; the killings of political party leaders over a 30-year period; the killings of religious leaders; a campaign of brutal attacks against Kurds in the 1980s; the 1990 invasion of Kuwait; and the violent suppression of Kurds and Shiites after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.


Judge Raid Juhi presided over the first hearing in the Hussein case. (Caryle M. Murphy--The Washington Post)

Iraq War Deaths

Total number of U.S. military deaths and names of the U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon yesterday: 1,514 Fatalities

In hostile actions: 1,158

In non-hostile actions: 356

Spec. Jonathan A. Hughes, 21, of Lebanon, Ky.; Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery Regiment, based in Campbellsville, Ky. Killed March 19.

Total fatalities include four civilian employees of the Defense Department.

A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation

SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/newsThe Washington Post

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Asked when the ousted leader might go to trial, Juhi said cases involving crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes require time to develop because of their complexity. "These are sophisticated crimes that are not easy to prove . . . because these crimes are also meant to show, or prove the policy of the government, and to prove that this policy was applied to some of the citizens, who are all coming from one group, maybe political, religious or ethnic," he said.

"But . . . we have come a very long way," he added. "I would say that before, we were digging underground. Now, we are above ground, working on the whole skeleton of the case. . . . I don't think there is a judge in the world who could predict when it will be finished."

Despite postwar looting of government offices, the tribunal has "very impressive and powerful documents" that will help prove cases against former officials, the judge said. And in the past year, he and his staff have heard "painful" testimony from witnesses, he added.

"We had some ideas of what had been committed during Saddam's era, but after the investigations we realized that what we've been hearing before doesn't even come near to what was committed in reality," he said. "Before, Iraqis couldn't speak about it and they kept it in their chests. Now, after the war, they started to speak. Iraqis will not be astonished" at what they hear during the trials. "But they will be proud of the tribunal they put their trust in."

Juhi also predicted that "friends from outside Iraq will be proud that they helped in this field. And those who didn't help will tell themselves that it would have been better had we helped." The tribunal was set up with $75 million in U.S. funds and U.S. legal experts are advising the court.

The dangers of working at the tribunal were put in sharp relief March 1 when one of its judges, Barwez Mohammed Mahmoud Merwani, 59, and his son, Aryan Barwez Mohammed Merwani, 26, were ambushed and killed in Baghdad as they got into their cars to go to work. The judge "was a member of the investigation team I head," Juhi said, adding that an investigation into his death is continuing.

Initially, Juhi was so closemouthed about his work that even his family did not know of his involvement in the criminal investigation of Hussein until last July, when Iraqi television aired Hussein's appearance before the judge. When his son saw him on the screen, Juhi recalled, he put his hand over his mouth and said " 'That's my father!' . . . He was astonished."

Juhi said he wanted to stress that he is "highly optimistic about the future" of his country. "The mistakes done before will not be repeated. There will be no centralization of power against people. The president will serve the people. I'm not only certain, I believe in this." He added that "the secret behind the success of government is the success of law."


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