Saddam sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity [Archives:2006/996/Front Page]

November 6 2006

BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 ) Iraq's High Criminal Tribunal sentenced the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, to death by hanging for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in the Shiite town of Al-Dujail.

Under the verdict, Saddam's half brother Barazan Al-Takriti and another senior official in his regime, Awad Al-Bandar, were also sentenced to death.

The former vice president, Taha Yasin Ramadan, faces a lifetime sentence and three other officials from Hussein's regime received imprisonment terms ranging from 15 to 22 years.

Chief Judge Ra'ouf Rashid, cleared one suspect, Mohamed Azzawi, of any charges attributed to him due to a lack of adequate testimony. The chief judge forced one member of Hussein's defence team, Ramsy Clark, to leave the courtroom. Clark is a former U.S. Secretary of Justice.

Different media quoted the defense team as saying Saddam Hussein, 69, enjoys a high morale and he was engaged in a heated debate with members of the tribunal over violence and the U.S. losses in Iraq only hours before Rashid's verdict was read.

Khalil Al-Dulaimi, head of Hussein's defense team, said he is not worried about the ruling, adding that the trial is sarcastic. Essam Ghazzawi, one of the defense team members, said Hussein laughed at the trial and said the Americans pay the price for invading Iraq, which, they believed, would be a picnic.

According to the defense team, Hussein knew execution was the minimum penalty he could face, in the trail that has lasted over one year.

Hussein and seven other defendants faced charges of crimes against humanity -including the 1982 Dujail killings that followed an assassination attempt on Hussein.

Many Iraqi's were pleased with the verdict.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki hailed the conviction in a televised address, saying the sentence was “not a sentence on one man, but a sentence against all the dark period of his rule.”

“Maybe this will help alleviate the pain of the widows and the orphans and those who have been ordered to bury their loved ones in secrecy and those who have been forced to suppress their feelings and suffering and those who have paid at the hands of torturers,” said Al-Maliqi.

When called to court, Saddam Hussein, dressed in his usual dark suit and white shirt and carrying a Koran, walked to his customary seat and sat down.

The chief judge ordered him to stand while he read out the verdict, but the former president defiantly refused to do so and had to be moved from his seat by court attendants.

As the judge began reading the death sentence Saddam Hussein shouted out “Allah Akbar!” and “Long live Iraq! Long live the Iraqi people! Down with the traitors!”

In Yemen the Ba'ath Party do not uphold the ruling.

Dr. Qasem Sallam, Secretary General of Ba'ath Leadership in Yemen, denounced the ruling issued against Saddam Hussein.

“The will is Persian and the umbrella is American, and there is nothing odd to surprise Iraqi people,” Sallam commented.

“The U.S. occupation plays the primary in this political gamble 'Saddam's trial,' in addition to the role of traitors including Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim and Ayatullah Al-Sistani, the Kurdish dissidents and the group of Da'awa Party. These people participated in the gamble and they move via the remote control device run by Persians, meaning Iran.”

“Iran and the White House are the parties who planned this verdict against Saddam Hussein and the Shiites, who benefit from the U.S. gamble, undertook procedures of the trial,” commented Sallam

“Regretfully, Saddam's verdict will have a negative impact on the Arab regimes that helped the U.S. to invade Iraq. The Arab regimes help the U.S. to expand its dominance in the Gulf and the northern parts of the Arabian Peninsula.”

As the sentence was passed the former leader looked shocked and furious and continued to shout, denouncing the court, the judge and the U.S.-led occupation force in Iraq, but some believe Saddam Hussein seemed to have a small smile of triumph on his face as he was led away from the courtroom.

“It was as if he was thinking 'I've come here and done what I intended to do',” said Jon Simpson, the BBC world affair's correspondent.

Shortly after the verdict was announced celebratory gunfire could be heard across Baghdad.

In the Shiite district of Al-Sadr City, there was jubilation on the streets, with people driving around in cars, sounding their horns. There were also jubilant scenes in the holy city of Najaf.

The Baghdad celebrations were in defiance of a 12-hour daytime curfew banning all vehicles and pedestrian traffic, which was placed on the whole city of six million people amid fears of violence from Saddam Hussein's Sunni Arab supporters.