Iraq judge, who presided over Saddam’s trial, dies of COVID-19

BAGHDAD (AP) — A retired Iraqi judge who presided over the trial of Iraq’s late dictator Saddam Hussein has died after battling COVID-19, the country’s top judicial body said yesterday.

According to Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, 52, passed away in a hospital in Baghdad where he was being treated for complications from the coronavirus.

Oreibi graduated from the Faculty of Law at Baghdad University in 1992 and was appointed a judge in 2000 by a presidential decree.

He shot to fame after he was named an investigative judge in the trial of Saddam and his regime in August 2004. He later took over as the lead judge in Saddam’s trial for genocide, which also included Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali, and five other defendants on charges related to their roles in the bloody 1987-1988 crackdown against Kurdish rebels, known as the Anfal campaign.

The prosecution alleged that around 180,000 people died, many of them civilians killed by poison gas. Saddam was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death; he was executed on December 30, 2006.

File photo shows Judge Mohammed Oreibi presiding over the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in Baghdad, Iraq. PHOTO: AP