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An Iraqi judge presiding over Saddam’s trial has died in COVID-19

BA HD DAD (AP) – A retired Iraqi judge who presided over the trial of the late dictator Saddam Hussein has died after fighting COVID-19, the country’s highest court said on Friday.

According to the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council, 52-year-old Judge Mohamed Oreibi al-Khalifa died at a Baghdad hospital where he was being treated for coronavirus complications.

Orebi graduated from Baghdad University in 1992 with a degree in law and was appointed a judge in 2000 by presidential decree.

He became famous after 2004. He was appointed an investigating judge during the trial of Saddam’s regime in August. He later served as Saddam’s chief justice for the genocide, which included Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali; five other defendants are charged in 1987-1988. Allegations of their role in the bloody crackdown on Kurdish rebels, known as the Anfal Campaign.

Prosecutors say about 180,000 people have died, many of them civilians killed by poison gas. Saddam was later sentenced to death. He was executed on December 30, 2006.

Shia Oreibi replaced Judge Abdullah al-Amiri, who was ousted during the trial on “extremely lenient charges” against Saddam. During the trial, Orebi endured many setbacks from Saddam’s co-chairs. He even threw the ousted Iraqi leader out of the courtroom several times amid fiery exchanges between them.

At one point, after a game between them, he ordered Saddam to be held in solitary confinement for several days.

The statement from Judicial Council praised Orebi for his courage in prosecuting Saddam’s former regime.

“He remains immortal in the hearts of Iraqis, especially the judges, in particular,” it said.

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