One, two, three. Fearless and straightforward, Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Majid al-Khalifa, called to preside over the collective of judges who in August 2006 began to judge the former Iraqi president for the attacks that in the late 1980s killed 180,000 people among the Kurdish population in the country, he expelled Saddam Hussein, out of disrespect for his court, no less than three times in the space of a week.
“You are the accused, I am the judge,” he said on the last occasion, before the apparently amused look of the man who between 1979 and 2003, the year he was deposed, following the American invasion of the country, was president of Iraq.
Just as he did not start the trial – he was chosen to replace the previous president, who was considered too lenient, for assuming in court that the defendant would not have been a dictator -, Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Majid al-Khalifa, of Shiite origin, then at the age of only 34, he also would not carry out the trial for the genocide of Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for other crimes and executed on the penultimate day of that year, without the process coming to an end.
He was still known as the judge who dared to stand up to the Iraqi dictator – and that is how now, almost 15 years later, he is being remembered by the international press at the time of his death. Admitted to a hospital in Baghdad, Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Majid al-Khalifa did not resist Covid-19 and died last Friday, April 2. He was 52 years old and had already retired. “It confronted the symbols of the old dictatorial regime and its ruler and, for that reason, it will remain immortal in the hearts of Iraqis in general and judges in particular”, praised the Superior Council of the Judiciary of Iraq.
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In late September 2006, while the trial was underway – which also sat on the dock Ali Hassam al-Majid, the cousin of the Iraqi dictator better known as Ali the Chemist -, a brother-in-law and nephew of Mohammed al-Oreibi al -Majid al-Khalifa were murdered in a neighborhood in the northwestern part of the Iraqi capital, but the judge remained at his post.
A year later, he would be the one to confirm the death penalty for hanging Saddam’s cousin, for the massacre of more than 180,000 Kurds, between 1987 and 1988.
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