Al-Bander presided over the trials of 143 Dujail
villagers who were sentenced to death [AP]

Awad Hamed al-Bander was a chief judge under Saddam Hussein and was the head of the Revolutionary Court which ordered the execution of 143 residents of the village of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt on the president in 1982.

He was accused of presiding over a series of show trials which often lead to summary death sentences.

When al-Bander was brought before the Special Tribunal he became the first judge to be tried for using his court to justify political executions since the Nazi judges were brought before the Nuremburg trials after World War Two.

It was argued that he had only been following Saddam's orders in issuing the death sentences, but the court found that his actions were "in fact an order of murder and not a judgment issued by virtue of the law and in conformity with it".

Raouf Abdel-Rahman, the chief judge, questioned al-Bandar over the 1984 trial, asking how all the defendants could have fitted in the court. "Those who did not fit in the cage used to be allowed to stand outside the cage," al-Bandar replied.

Al-Bandar said the Dujail trial had lasted two weeks and that all the defendants had lawyers.

"How did you take the testimonies of 148 persons that quickly?" the judge asked him.

Al-Bandar said they had confessed. "We were at war with Iran and they confessed that they did their act at orders coming from Iran," he said.

He was found guilty of "committing a deliberate crime against humanity" and sentenced to death.

It was claimed that al-Bander had ordered the execution of 35 children, but he also denied this and continued to insist that his trials were fair.

"The accused had all their rights and were defended by their lawyers ... I am a judge and my deep conscience does not allow me to sentence someone under 20 to death," he said on April 16.

Source: Agencies