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Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging

CNN | November 5, 2006
Jomana Karadsheh and Aneesh Raman

Comment: Saddam's fate is sealed but what about those of his accomplices and business partners? Some of the very Neo-Cons that still control the White House today and armed Saddam and enabled him to build up a power base in the first place.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi High Tribunal on Sunday sentenced a combative Saddam Hussein and two other defendants to death by hanging for a brutal crackdown in 1982 in the Shiite town of Dujail.

Iraqis under a curfew in Baghdad spilled out into the streets in celebration of the verdict, news footage showed. But protests were held in Saddam Hussein's hometown.

Along with Hussein, his half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan, and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar also got death. (Watch Hussein shout protests during sentencing -- 4:05 )

Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former vice president of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.

"The verdict was predetermined and has nothing to do with court proceedings," Ramadan said.

Mohammed Azzawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was acquitted because of insufficient evidence against him, the court said.

The three others -- Abdullah Kadhem Ruwaid, Ali Dayem Ali, and Misher Abdullah Ruwaid -- were sentenced to 15 years each.

There will be automatic appeals for the four who were sentenced to death and life in prison.

The 50-minute session was dramatic. Hussein entered with a Quran in hand, as he had in the past. He began screaming Allahu Akhbar -- God is great -- as the verdict and sentencing was read.

He also argued with the chief judge and shouted, "Damn you and your court."

As the judge ordered him taken away, Hussein said, "Don't push me, boy."

Bandar also screamed Allahu Akhbar as he was taken out of court.

Defense attorney Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general, was ousted by judges early in the session. The court asked him to leave, saying he had come here from the United States to mock the Iraqi people and the court.

Another defense attorney, Ziad al-Najdawi, angrily told reporters as he left the courtroom, "That's the American justice."

The Dujail case stemmed from a crackdown against townspeople after a 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein in the town. The crackdown involved the ordered executions of 148 males.

Before Sunday's verdicts were announced, a curfew was imposed in Baghdad and two provinces -- Diyala and Salaheddin -- with large Sunni populations ahead of expected violence.

Predominantly Shiite and Kurdish provinces were not under curfew.

About 2,000 protesters in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Sunday defied the curfew and demonstrated in support of the former leader.

A witness said the protesters carried posters of the former president and were shooting into the air.

The numbers of demonstrators grew after the sentence was announced. A complete movement ban -- both people and vehicles -- was imposed on Sunday in the provinces of Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin -- where Tikrit is located.

The Baghdad International Airport also shut down until further notice.

This verdicts come nearly three years after U.S.-led forces plucked Hussein out of hiding and just a few days before U.S. midterm elections, with the Iraqi war at center stage.

The U.S. ambassador in Iraq praised the verdicts and sentencing as "an important milestone for Iraq."

"Although the Iraqis may face difficult days in the coming weeks, closing the book on Saddam and his regime is an opportunity to unite and build a better future," Zalmay Khalilzad said in a statement issued shortly after the verdicts were rendered.

Outbursts and walkouts
The Dujail trial, the first in what is a series of proceedings against former regime officials, began October 19, 2005, and ended July 27. It was a turbulent courtroom battle witnessed on TV across the globe.

It was marked by outbursts and harangues from Hussein and his co-defendants, lawyer walkouts, much-criticized court actions, and complaints from lawyers about poor security. There were grave concerns about security for legal teams and their families; three defense lawyers were killed. (Full story)

Witness testimony and prosecutors got their case across, however. According to court documents, the military, political and security apparatus in Iraq and Dujail killed, arrested, detained and tortured men, women and children in the town. Homes were demolished and orchards were razed.

The Revolutionary Court sentenced 148 males to death, with Saddam's signature ratifying the order.

But there were other deaths as well -- nine people were killed during the destruction of orchards, and many of the 399 people who had been detained were either killed or remain missing.

Hussein, Hassan and Ramadan were charged with willful killing, deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental norms of law; torture; enforced disappearance of persons, and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering; or serious injury to the body or to the mental or physical health.

Bandar was charged with willful killing by issuing the death sentences for the 148 people.

The remaining defendants were lower-level Baath Party officials from Dujail, who were charged with informing on residents who later died in prison or were sentenced to death.

Hussein is also in the middle of another trial involving the 1988 Anfal campaign, the government offensive in the country's Kurdish region. Hussein is charged in that case with genocide.

 

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