The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (Tribunal or SICT) is a special court established outside the normal Iraqi judicial system for the specific purpose of bringing Saddam Hussein and members of his former regime to justice. Under Order Number 48 of December 10, 2003 (PDF, 383KB), enacted by the Iraqi Governing Council and issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), an Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) was first established by a statute. The CPA is the official authority set up by the United States and its allies to govern Iraq during its occupation. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred power to an Iraqi interim government.
Due to legal questions about the establishment of the IST and its legitimacy as an entity created under the authority of an occupying power, the Iraqi interim government issued Law Number 10 on October 9, 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB). This law abolished the 2003 statute and established the SICT.
While the official seat of the Tribunal is the city of Baghdad, hearings, upon a decision of the Council of Ministers based on a recommendation made by the President of the Tribunal, may be held in any of the Iraqi governorates.
Pursuant to Iraqi Law Number 10 of 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB), the Tribunal has three main functions: adjudication, investigation, and prosecution. Each of these functions is carried out by a separate body of judges or prosecutors and supported by the administrative personnel of the Tribunal.
The adjudication of cases meriting indictment is conducted by a trial chamber consisting of five Adjudicative Judges who elect from among themselves a Chief Judge to supervise their work.
In addition to the trial chambers, the Tribunal also includes a Cassation Chamber that reviews judgments and decisions rendered by the Adjudicative and Investigative Judges.
The Cassation Chamber consists of nine judges who elect from among themselves a President, who is also the President of the Tribunal. In addition to other responsibilities, the President of the Tribunal nominates the judges of the trial chambers and their alternates.
The Council of Ministers may, when necessary, and upon the recommendation of the President of the Tribunal, appoint non-Iraqi judges who have experience in the trying of crimes covered by the law of the Tribunal. This will occur when a state is a party to the proceedings. Such an appointment is to be made with the assistance of the international community including the United Nations.
The investigation of crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is undertaken by the Investigative Judges who elect from among themselves Chief and Deputy Chief Investigative Judges. The Chief Investigative Judge assigns the cases separately to each of the other Investigative Judges.
The Investigative Judge has the authority to collect evidence from whatever sources is deemed appropriate and can establish direct communication with those who may be relevant to the investigation. The Investigative Judge, as a distinct entity of the Tribunal, conducts the investigation independently and does not submit to or answer to any orders or demands made by any governmental authority.
Decisions of the Investigative Judge may be appealed before the Cassation Chamber within fifteen days from the date of service of process, whether the service is actual or by operation of law.
The Chief Investigative Judge may, after consultation with the President of the Tribunal, appoint non-Iraqi experts to provide judicial assistance to the Investigative Judges regarding the cases covered by Iraqi Law Number 10 of 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB).
The prosecution of those accused of committing crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is conducted by public prosecutors who elect from among themselves Chief and Deputy-Chief Prosecutors. Similarly to the role of the Investigative Judge, each public prosecutor acts independently as a distinct entity of the Tribunal and does not submit to or answer to any orders or demands made by any governmental authority.
The Chief Prosecutor assigns to a public prosecutor a case to be investigated and tried in court. The public prosecutor discharges his duties in accordance with the authority given to him by Iraqi law.
Similarly to the Chief Investigative Judge, the Chief Prosecutor may, after consultation with the President of the Tribunal, appoint non-Iraqi experts to provide assistance concerning investigation and indictment to public prosecutors regarding the cases covered by Iraqi Law Number 10 of 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB).
In accordance with article 1 of Iraqi Law Number 10 of 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB), the subject matter jurisdiction of the Tribunal is limited to certain types of crimes that were committed between July 17, 1968, the date the Baath party seized power, and May 1, 2003, the date on which the United States declared the end of major combat operations.
Law Number 10 of 2005 (PDF, 2.21MB) defined the Tribunal and the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in a detailed manner, following the text used in articles 6-8 of the Rome Statute (PDF, 1.01MB) of the International Criminal Court (external link).
It is of interest to mention here that article 24 of Law Number 10 of 2005 provides that the penalties imposed by the Tribunal are those provided for in the Iraqi Penal Code Number 111 of 1969. It further provides that in determining the penalty for any of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that have no assigned penalties under Iraqi law, the Tribunal shall be guided by, among other things, the judicial precedents of international criminal courts (such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (external link) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (external link)).
Last Updated: 07/03/2007