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Iraq’s top judge removed over ties to Saddam party

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi panel tasked with purging government ranks of former members of Saddam Hussein’s party said on Thursday that it has removed the country’s top judge from his post because of alleged ties to the now-dissolved Baath party.

The removal of Chief judge Medhat al-Mahmoud from the leadership of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Federal Court was not expected to spark a political outcry, unlike some previous dismissals of politicians and government officials.

The deputy chief of the country’s Justice and Accountability Committee, Bakhtiar Omar al-Qadhi, said the decision taken Wednesday was based on “strong evidence” supplied by parliament.

“We received an official document from the parliament showing that he was one of the former regime’s henchmen,” al-Qadhi told The Associated Press in a phone interview. He wouldn’t discuss the details, saying that al-Mahmoud has 60 days to appeal.

If the judge does not appeal, he will have to either retire or accept a lower post, he added.