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Iraq Special Tribunal
The Iraq Special Tribunal for Crimes Against Humanity (IST) was set up by the Iraqi Governing Council under Iraqi national law in December 2003, following the deposing of Saddam Hussein. It is a special court set up in Iraq to try Iraqis accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, during the former Ba'athist era.
It is comprised of five units:
- Tribunal Investigative Judges (judge inquisitorial system), who examine the evidence and determine the prima facie case.
- Trial Chambers, to conduct the hearings, pronounce judgements and impose sentences.
- Appeals Chamber, to hear appeals against sentences.
- Prosecutions Department
- Administrative Department
The Tribunal is an independent entity. Judges may not seek or receive instructions from any source. They serve five-year terms. Judges were chosen by the Governing Council in consultation with the Iraqi Judicial Council, although there has been some criticism of the allegedly lower standard than the International Criminal Court (ICC) Judges. The constitution of the court makes allowances to some extent for international experts and, if deemed necessary, specialist international judges to be appointed. Some NGOs, however, have complained about the perceived lack of experience within the make-up of the Tribunal. The Tribunal follows standard Iraqi custom in applying the Continental or Civil law system, in which crimes are investigated by Tribunal Investigative Judges rather than police officers, and trials will be heard before panels of five Trial Judges.
The Tribunal has powers to try crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes as similarly defined by the statute of the International Criminal Court. It will also have powers to hear cases on wasting national resources and squandering national assets, and abuse of position and pursuit of policies that led to threat of war and armed force, in contravention of the United Nations Charter.
Rights of the accused are defined by the statute of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and include the right to be present at trial, the right to counsel, and the right to mount a defence.The Tribunal has declared it will adhere to standards of international law in compliance with the sovereign law of Iraq. The Tribunal's jurisdiction is limited to the period between 17 July 1968 and 1 May 2003.
Although penalties are at the discretion of the Tribunal, the death penalty was reimposed by the Iraqi Interim Government, which has led to some degree of international isolation of the court, with most of the support coming from the United States of America. However the Judges are being supported and trained by other coalition nations as well, and there are high hopes that more international involvement will be forthcoming. The recent shooting of one of the investigative judges has been a hindrance on the court's progress.
The Tribunal is responsible for the trial of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid (also known as "Chemical Ali"), former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, former deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and other former senior officials in the deposed Ba'athist regime. Saddam Hussein and eleven other defendants were arraigned in July 2004. The arraignments became necessary upon the transition and transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government. Iraqi court proceeedings thereby became the formal domestic legal basis for detaining the defendants rather than any military necessity.
Statute of the IST: 
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