Judge Rauf Rashid at Saddam Hussein's trial. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdish judge who sentenced former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to death is alive and well, contrary to international media reports he was executed by the jihadi-led insurgents blazing across Iraq, a Kurdish official and a family member told Rudaw.
A spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Justice in Erbil said he had personally spoken to Rauf Rashid Abdulrahman, the judge who sentenced Saddam to death by hanging in 2006, and that reports he had died were false.
"Those are only rumors and they are totally baseless,” Nariman Talib Moryasi told Rudaw. “I personally contacted Judge Rauf yesterday and he is well and living his normal life.”
Abdulrahman was the chief judge of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, which tried Saddam and a number of his top aides. He was accused of being prejudiced by some critics because he is from Halabja, the Kurdish town that was bombarded with poison gas by Saddam’s forces during the closing weeks of the 1980-88 war with Iran.
Abdulrahman reportedly lost several relatives in the attack, which killed 5,000 Kurdish civilians, many of them women and children. There are also unconfirmed claims he was imprisoned and tortured by Saddam’s men in the 1980s.
International media reports that Abdulrahma had been executed began circulating shortly after the insurgents -- who include the jihadist Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and loyalists of Saddam’s former Baath regime -- began a blitz a fortnight ago that has seen them conquer cities and installations and close in on Baghdad.
A close family member of Abdulrahman told Rudaw that nothing untoward had happened to the judge since he moved to the Kurdistan Region, the three-province Kurdish enclave that has remained the only peaceful and economically prospering portion of Iraq.
“Judge Rauf was the target of multiple assassination attempts while he was in Baghdad, but no such incident has happened in the Kurdistan Region,” said the family member, speaking on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.
“He has not been captured or killed by ISIS and he is well and currently in a safe place,” the relative confirmed.
Since the trial and Saddam’s execution, Abdulrahman and his family have shunned media attention, mostly for security reasons and to avoid threats.
Rumors of his execution “must be the work of the Baathists, aimed at increasing their own publicity,” the judge’s relative said.
The relative added that security officials in Kurdistan had asked the family to take extra security measures, in light of the turmoil in the rest of Iraq.