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Shi'ite Judge Expected to Head Hussein Panel

The chief judge who resigned from the Saddam Hussein trial is expected to be replaced by a Shi'ite judge currently serving on the panel.

Saad al-Hamash reportedly will become interim chief judge until a permanent replacement is named. He is the most senior of the other four justices on the tribunal. He is also a member of the Shi'ite majority that was oppressed during Saddam's regime.

Outgoing presiding judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin quit last week under heavy criticism for not being firm enough in his handling of the former dictator.

The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven others is set to resume a week from January 24. They are accused of killing more than 140 Shi'ite villagers 23 years ago, following a failed assassination attempt against the Iraqi leader.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.