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Iraqi Activist Hussein Jameel Dies

January 10, 2002

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Hussein Jameel, a former Cabinet minister and longtime champion of democracy in Iraq, has died in Baghdad. He was 93.

Jameel died of old age at home on Monday, a close friend in London told The Associated Press. The friend requested anonymity.

Trained as a lawyer, Jameel served as a judge in the early 1930s. He co-founded the al-Ahali group in 1932, one of the first pro-democracy lobbies in Iraq. In the early 1940s, he and two others founded the National Democratic Party, which played a significant role in pushing for democracy under the monarchy.

As a lawyer he devoted much of his time to defending, free of charge, communists and democracy activists who were prosecuted for anti-government agitation.

He became minister of justice in 1949 under the monarchy _ a move that brought criticism from his own party and other democracy activists. But he soon resigned following differences with the pro-British members of the Cabinet.

In 1953, he was elected president of the Lawyers Union. The following year he won a seat in parliament for National United Front, despite the rigging and interference that characterized the 1954 elections. The king dissolved parliament 12 days later to prepare Iraq for joining the ill-fated Baghdad Pact, an anti-Soviet agreement with Turkey and Pakistan that was backed by the United States and Britain.

After the monarchy was overthrown in 1958, Jameel became minister of information, but again resigned after a row with the leader of the revolution, Abdel-Karim Qassem, over the suspension of the communist party’s newspaper.

He was then appointed Iraqi ambassador to India.

Jameel spent the past 25 years out of the public eye. His personal library became an archive for law students and researchers. He published several books on law.

He is survived by a son and two daughters.

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