Saddam sentenced to hang for Shiite killings
Updated: 2006-11-05 16:56
In this photo, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is seen as
he is questioned by Chief Investigative Judge Raid Juhi, not seen, Aug.
23, 2005 at an unknown location. Saddam was sentenced to hang on Sunday.
BAGHDAD - Iraq's High
Tribunal on Sunday found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and
sentenced him to hang, as the visibly shaken former leader shouted "God is
His half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim,
and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of the former Revolutionary Court, were sentenced
to join Saddam on the gallows.
After the verdict was read, a trembling
Saddam yelled out, "Life for the glorious nation, and death to its
He initially refused Chief Judge Raouf Adbul-Rahman's order to rise. Two
bailiffs lifted Saddam to his feet and he remained standing through the
As the proceedings finished, clashes broke out between
police and gunmen in north Baghdad's Azamiyah district, which is dominated by
hardliners from among Saddam's fellow Sunni sect. In contrast, celebratory
gunfire rang out in many other parts of the city.
The verdict was
immediately condemned by the head of the second largest Sunni bloc in
parliament, who predicted it would spark even greater bloodshed between Sunnis
and the country's majority Shiites, who were heavily persecuted under Saddam's
more-than two decades of authoritarian rule but now largely control the
government and security forces.
"It was not wise and the government, not
the court, has gone to the extreme with issuing this sentence, even in advance,"
Salih al-Mutlaq told the al-Arabiya satellite television station.
government will be responsible for the consequences, with the deaths of
hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands, whose blood will be shed,"
Saddam and his seven co-defendants had been tried by the
Iraqi High Tribunal over a wave of revenge killings carried out in the city of
Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on the former dictator.
Saddam faces additional charges in a separate case over an alleged
massacre of Kurdish civilians. It wasn't clear when a verdict would be announced
in that other case, or when Saddam's sentence would be carried out.
Before the trial began, one of Saddam's lawyers, former US Attorney
General Ramsey Clark, was ejected from the courtroom after handing the judge a
memorandum in which he called the Saddam trial a travesty.
Abdul-Rahman pointed to Clark and said in English, "Get out."
against violence, Baghdad was placed under a total curfew, with shops shuttered
and pedestrians and vehicles almost completely absent from the streets of the
city of six million people. Iraqi security forces and US troops mounted
additional patrols, but no major incidents had been reported.
close cooperation between Iraqi and coalition forces in maintaining the curfew,"
said police Maj. Mahir Hamad Mousa of the al-Khansa station in Baghdad's Jadeeda
district ."We have fully prepared for this duty," he said.
verdict for Saddam is expected to enrage hard-liners among Saddam's fellow
Sunnis, who made up the bulk of the former ruling class. The country's majority
Shiites, who were persecuted under the former leader but now largely control the
government, will likely view the outcome as a cause of celebration.
with the verdict imminent, Saddam's lawyers and some Sunni politicians had
called for the court proceedings to be suspended.
"It has become clear
to the Iraqi people and the whole world that this court is politicized 100
percent," Salih al-Mutlaq, head of the second largest Sunni parliamentarian
block, told the Doha-based al-Jazeera satellite channel.
accused the US and Iraqi governments of interfering with the work of the court
and said a verdict would further polarize Iraqi society, already traumatized by
sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis.
"This verdict will be the
last nail in the coffin of the national reconciliation plan and the political
process," al-Mutlaq said. "I call upon Arab leaders and ... to interfere for the
sake of Iraq's unity."
The head of another prominent Sunni group, Harith
al-Dhari, said any verdict should be delayed until after the departure of US
forces, who toppled Saddam following their March 2003 invasion of the country.
"If this court issues the verdict, I would consider it to be illegal,
illegitimate and political," al-Dhari told al-Arabiya, a satellite television
channel viewed throughout the Arab world.
Echoing those sentiments, the
Association of Muslim Scholars, a hard-line Sunni clerical group, demanded that
Saddam's trial be postponed until "the occupation leaves".
"I do believe
that this process is politically motivated and not a judicial one," Harith
al-Dhari, the association's leader, told the Pan Arab al-Arabiya satellite
One of Saddam's lawyers, Najeeb al-Nu'aimi, said Saddam and his
co-defendants had not been given sufficient time to present their cases.
"The court is not neutral. It lacks legitimacy," said al-Nu-aimi, a
former justice minister of the gulf state of Qatar.
The curfew, which
also covers two provinces neighboring Baghdad where Sunni insurgents are
battling US troops and the Iraqi government, was only lightly observed in
Baghdad's sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army
militia led by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
police commander Col. Hassan Challoub said quick reaction teams made up of the
Iraqi police, army and the Interior Ministry commandos units were patrolling the
"No incident and nothing abnormal is reported so far," Challoub
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Saturday Iraqis to
accept the verdict Saddam without violence, but in the next breath declared that
the former dictator must get "what he deserves" with the decision that could
send him to the gallows.
A Shiite who was forced into years of exile
during Saddam's Sunni-dominated rule, al-Maliki had called for Saddam to be
sentenced to death.
Saddam and the other seven defendants had been
accused of accused of arresting hundreds of people in the Dujail crackdown,
including women and children, and of torturing some to death, with 148 people
killed in all. Al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa party has claimed responsibility for
organizing the assassination attempt.
In the US, President George W.
Bush's chief spokesman underscored on Saturday that Saddam's trial was being
conducted by an independent Iraqi judiciary, what he called an important
component of the country's development.
"These are things that are
absolutely vital to building a democracy that will not only sustain itself, but
have the faith and support of the populace," said Tony Snow.
of the verdict, vacationing soldiers were recalled to duty in one of the
heaviest security crackdowns in Baghdad since the bombing of an important shrine
in the city of Samarra in February that unleashed rampant sectarian violence.
New checkpoints popped up on major roads, including within the heavily
fortified Green Zone that houses Iraqi government offices and the US and British
embassies. A heavy police presence and larger than normal numbers of US troops
patrolled the streets.
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