Saddam Judge Reported In Britain

Saddam judge reported in Britain

Saturday, March 17, 2007; 8:02 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – The Iraqi judge who sentenced former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to death was reported on Saturday to have sought asylum in London but another senior judge in Baghdad said he was expected back in Iraq in April.

British newspaper the Times said Raouf Abdel Rahman, 65, was living in Britain and had applied for permission to stay, fearing for his life in Iraq.

Abdel Rahman came to Britain on a visitor's visa with his family, according to the unsourced report in the Times. He is thought to have applied for asylum after arriving in Britain two weeks before Saddam was hanged on December 30, the Times said.

But Munir Hadad, one of the nine judges on Iraq's Appeals Chamber, said on Saturday Abdel Rahman was due back in April.

“The judge has a normal holiday that ends on April 5. He is undergoing medical check-ups and he told the court he intends to return at the end of his holiday,” Hadad told a news conference in Baghdad on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Home Office (interior ministry), the department that handles immigration and asylum claims, would not confirm or deny the report Abdel Rahman had sought asylum.

“We never discuss individual asylum cases,” she said.

Militants in Iraq have frequently targeted relatives of prominent figures, including judges, who are surrounded by tight security.

Abdel Rahman, a Kurd, headed the court that sentenced Saddam to hang on November 5 last year for crimes against humanity.

The trial was over the killing of 148 Shi'ite men and boys after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Iraqi town of Dujail.

Abdel Rahman also sentenced to death Saddam's former chief judge, Awad Hamed al-Bander and Saddam's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti.

Earlier this month, Arabic TV station Al Jazeera also reported he had sought asylum in London.

(Additional reporting by Mussab Al-Khairalla in Baghdad)