Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa g
Darko Bandic  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa gestures during the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Tuesday. His brother-in-law was killed and his nephew wounded by gunfire on Friday.  
updated 9/29/2006 9:26:44 AM ET 2006-09-29T13:26:44

The brother-in-law of the new judge presiding over Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial was killed and his nephew was wounded in a shooting Friday in Baghdad, the latest deadly violence linked to proceedings against the former Iraqi leader.

Kadhim Abdul-Hussein was fatally shot, and his son, Karrar, was wounded in the capital’s western Ghazaliyah neighborhood by unidentified assailants, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were related to Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, a Shiite Muslim who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad.

During Saddam’s first trial, three defense lawyers were killed, and in July, Saddam and three other defendants refused food to protest lack of security for lawyers and conduct of the trial.

Friday’s attack in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Ghazaliyah came a half-hour before the weekly ban on vehicular traffic in the capital that has been instituted to try to prevent suicide bombings on the Muslim holy day.

Judge just recently appointed
Al-Khalifa had been deputy to the original chief judge in the trial, Abdullah al-Amiri, who was removed on accusations he was too soft on Saddam. Among other things, al-Amiri had 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 in 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.

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