BAGHDAD, Iraq - A relative of the new presiding judge in Saddam Hussein's
genocide trial was shot and killed in Baghdad on Friday, an attack condemned by
the country's top prosecutor as an attempt to force the trial to be moved out of
Chief judge Mohammed al-Ureybi
presides over the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein inside the
fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, September 26, 2006. A brother-in-law of
Ureybi was shot dead by gunmen while driving in western Baghdad, police
said on Friday. [Reuters]
On Friday night, the government imposed a complete curfew for the capital
effective immediately through Sunday morning, the prime minister's office said.
It did not give a reason for the ban on all vehicles and pedestrians.
A source at the Interior Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity because
he was not authorized to talk with the press, said intelligence information on
the security situation made a curfew necessary. He refused to give further
In the past, such wide-ranging curfews have been imposed following
intelligence information that car or suicide bombs were planned in Baghdad. The
U.S. military has forecast a surge in violence during the Muslim holy month of
Ramadan which began on Monday. A senior U.S. military official said the first
week of Ramadan was the worst for suicide bombings since the U.S.-led invasion
Prosecutor General Jaafar al-Mousawi said the attack on a car carrying the
judge's brother-in-law and nephew, the latest in a string of violence linked to
proceedings against the former Iraqi leader, would not stop the court from
moving ahead. During Saddam's first trial, three defense lawyers were killed,
and a fourth fled the country in fear of his life.
"The terrorists and criminals are aiming through this act to stop the justice
and the democratic process in Iraq," al-Mousawi told The Associated Press.
"Killing a lawyer or a judge or their relatives is an attempt to prevent the
trial from continuing, and then to transfer it abroad, but that goal will never
Saddam's defense team has wanted to move the trial to another country in the
belief that the current judges are biased against their client and that he is
not receiving a fair trial. However, al-Mousawi did not elaborate on why those
who attacked the judge's relatives might want the trial moved.
It was unclear whether Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa's relatives were
targeted because of his role in the trial, or if the shooting was just another
of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad.
The judge's brother-in-law, Kadhim Abdul-Hussein, was one of at least six
people who died in violent attacks in Iraq on Friday.
Abdul-Hussein was driving through the predominantly Sunni neighborhood
Ghazaliyah neighborhood when assailants shot at his car, killing him and
wounding his son, Karrar, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.
Al-Khalifa, a Shiite, took over Saddam's trial last week. He had been deputy
to the original chief judge, Abdullah al-Amiri, who was removed after being
accused of being too soft on Saddam. Among other things, al-Amiri angered
Kurdish politicians by declaring in court that Saddam was "not a dictator."
Saddam's nine lawyers walked out of the trial Monday to boycott the
proceedings as a protest of al-Amiri's removal. Al-Khalifa later adjourned the
trial until Oct. 9, saying he wanted to give the defendants time to persuade
their original lawyers to end the boycott, or to confer with new attorneys.
The trial, Saddam's second, began Aug. 21. He and six co-defendants face
genocide charges for their roles in a bloody crackdown against Kurdish rebels in
the late 1980s. The defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.
With sectarian violence rising during Ramadan, police found the corpses of 14
people who had been tortured in and around Baghdad, all blindfolded with their
hands and legs bound ¡ª likely victims of the death squads that roam the city.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops raided the home of Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the
largest Sunni bloc in parliament, detaining his guard Khudhir Farhan, al-Dulaimi
told the AP. Al-Dulaimi said 10 Humvees circled his western Baghdad home, then
troops went through the building with a dog.
"I condemn this act and I demand they free the guard," al-Dulaimi said,
adding they had the "illusion ... of the guard's involvement with terrorist
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said he had "no reason to
dispute his claims" that U.S. forces raided his house, but that he could not
comment further on "our ongoing operational activities."
"They found nothing," al-Dulaimi said.
The commander of U.S. forces in Ramadi, capital of volatile Anbar province,
said the insurgency can be beaten but probably not until after U.S. troops leave
"An insurgency is a very difficult thing to defeat in a finite period of
time. It takes a lot of persistence ¡ª perseverance is the actual term that we
like to use," Army Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of 1st Brigade, 1st
Armored Division, said in a video-teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon.
"Who knows how long this is going to actually last?" he added. "But if we get
the level of violence down to a point where the Iraqi security forces are more
than capable of dealing with it, the insurgency's days will eventually come to
an end. And they will come to an end at the hands of the Iraqis, who, by
definition, will always be perceived as more legitimate than an external force
like our own."
In Ramadi, the insurgency has become so entrenched and feared by residents
that the city has no Iraqi mayor. Recently, however, the tide has begun to turn
against al-Qaida in Iraq, which has become the dominant anti-government force,
the colonel said.
"It's a situation that's beginning to spiral in our favor," he said.
A U.N. report released Wednesday said fewer foreign fighters have been killed
or captured in Iraq in the last few months, suggesting that the flow of foreign
fighters into Iraq "has slackened."