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Iraqi tribunal sentences Saddam to hang

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/saddam_verdict Iraqi tribunal sentences Saddam to hang By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 23 minutes
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2006

      Iraqi tribunal sentences Saddam to hang

      By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 23 minutes

      BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein was convicted and
      sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity
      in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite
      town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant,
      shouted "God is great!"

      As he, his half brother and another senior official in
      his regime were convicted and sentenced to death by
      the Iraqi High Tribunal, Saddam yelled out, "Long live
      the people and death to their enemies. Long live the
      glorious nation, and death to its enemies!" Later, his
      lawyer said the former dictator had called on Iraqis
      to reject sectarian violence and refrain from revenge
      against U.S. forces.

      The trial brought Saddam and his co-defendants before
      their accusers in what was one of the most highly
      publicized and heavily reported trials of its kind
      since the Nuremberg tribunals for members of Adolf
      Hitler's Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million
      Jews in the World War II Holocaust

      "The verdict placed on the heads of the former regime
      does not represent a verdict for any one person. It is
      a verdict on a whole dark era that has was unmatched
      Iraq's history," Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shiite prime
      minister, said.

      Some feared the verdicts could exacerbate the
      sectarian violence that has pushed the country to the
      brink of civil war, after a trial that stretched over
      nine months in 39 sessions and ended nearly 3 1/2
      months ago. The verdict came two days before midterm
      elections in the United States widely seen as a
      referendum on the Bush administration's policy in
      Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials have denied the timing
      was deliberate.

      In north Baghdad's heavily Sunni Azamiyah district,
      clashes broke out between police and gunmen. Elsewhere
      in the capital, celebratory gunfire rang out.

      "This government will be responsible for the
      consequences, with the deaths of hundreds, thousands
      or even hundreds of thousands, whose blood will be
      shed," Salih al-Mutlaq, a Sunni political leader, told
      the Al-Arabiya satellite television station.

      Saddam and his seven co-defendants were on trial for a
      wave of revenge killings carried out in the city of
      Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on the
      former dictator. Al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa party, then
      an underground opposition, has claimed responsibility
      for organizing the attempt on Saddam's life.

      In the streets of Dujail, a Tigris River city of
      84,000, people celebrated and burned pictures of their
      former tormentor as the verdict was read.

      Saddam's chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi condemned the
      trial as a "farce," claiming the verdict was planned.
      He said defense attorneys would appeal within 30 days.

      The death sentences automatically go to a nine-judge
      appeals panel, which has unlimited time to review the
      case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the
      executions must be carried out within 30 days.

      A court official told The Associated Press that the
      appeals process was likely to take three to four weeks
      once the formal paperwork was submitted.

      During Sunday's hearing, Saddam initially refused the
      chief judge's order to rise; two bailiffs pulled the
      ousted ruler to his feet and he remained standing
      through the sentencing, sometimes wagging his finger
      at the judge.

      Before the session began, one of Saddam's lawyers,
      former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, was ejected
      from the courtroom after handing the judge a
      memorandum in which he called the trial a travesty.

      Chief Judge Raouf Abdul-Rahman pointed to Clark and
      said in English, "Get out."

      In addition to the former Iraqi dictator and Barzan
      Ibrahim, his former intelligence chief and half
      brother, the Iraqi High Tribunal convicted and
      sentenced Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the head of Iraq's
      former Revolutionary Court, to death by hanging.
      Iraq's former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was
      convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life
      in prison.

      Three defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison
      for torture and premeditated murder. Abdullah Kazim
      Ruwayyid and his son Mizhar Abdullah Ruwayyid were
      party officials Dujail, along with Ali Dayih Ali. They
      were believed responsible for the Dujail arrests.

      Mohammed Azawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party
      official, was acquitted for lack of evidence and
      immediately freed.

      He faces additional charges in a separate case over an
      alleged massacre of Kurdish civilians — a trial that
      will continue while appeals are pending.

      The guilty verdict is likely 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.

      Al-Dulaimi, Saddam's lawyer, told AP his client called
      on Iraqis to reject sectarian violence and called on
      them to refrain from taking revenge on U.S. invaders.

      "His message to the Iraqi people was 'pardon and do
      not take revenge on the invading nations and their
      people'," al-Dulaimi said, quoting Saddam. "The
      president also asked his countrymen to 'unify in the
      face of sectarian strife.'"

      In Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, 1,000 people defied the
      curfew and carried pictures of the city's favorite son
      through the streets. Some declared the court a product
      of the U.S. "occupation forces" and condemned the

      "By our souls, by our blood we sacrifice for you
      Saddam" and "Saddam your name shakes America."

      U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad issued a statement
      saying the verdicts "demonstrate the commitment of the
      Iraqi people to hold them (Saddam and his
      co-defendants) accountable."

      "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," Khalilzad said.

      Two U.S. officials who worked as advisers to the court
      on matters of international judicial procedures said
      Saddam's repeated courtroom outbursts during the
      nine-month trial may have played a key part in his

      They cited his admission in a March 1 hearing that he
      had ordered the trial of 148 Shiites who were
      eventually executed, insisting that doing so was legal
      because they were suspected in the assassination
      attempt against him. "Where is the crime? Where is the
      crime?" he asked, standing before the panel of five

      Later in the same session, he argued that his
      co-defendants must be released and that because he was
      in charge, he alone must be tried. His outburst came a
      day after the prosecution presented a presidential
      decree with a signature they said was Saddam's
      approval for death sentences for the 148 Shiites,
      their most direct evidence against him.

      About 50 of those sentenced by the "Revolutionary
      Court" died during interrogation before they could go
      to the gallows. Some of those hanged were children.

      "Every time they (defendants) rose and spoke, they
      provided a lot of incriminating evidence," said one of
      the U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of
      anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

      Under Saddam, Iraq's bureaucracy showed a consistent
      tendency to document orders, policies and minutes of
      meetings. That, according to the U.S. officials,
      helped the prosecution produce more than 30 documents
      that clearly established the chain of command under

      One document gave the names of everyone from Dujail
      banished to a desert detention camp in southern Iraq.
      Another, prepared by an aide to Saddam, gave the
      president a detailed account of the punitive measures
      against the people of Dujail following the failed
      assassination attempt.

      Saddam's trial had from the outset appeared to reflect
      the turmoil and violence in Iraq since the 2003
      U.S.-led invasion.

      One of Saddam's lawyers was assassinated the day after
      the trial's opening session last year. Two more were
      later assassinated and a fourth fled the country.

      In January, chief judge Rizgar Amin, a Kurd, resigned
      after complaints by Shiite politicians that he had
      failed to keep control of court proceedings. He, in
      turn, complained of political interference in the
      trial. Abdul-Rahman, another Kurd, replaced Amin.

      Hearings were frequently disrupted by outbursts from
      Saddam and Ibrahim, with the two raging against what
      they said was the illegitimacy of the court, their ill
      treatment in the U.S.-run facility where they are
      being held and the lack of protection for their

      The defense lawyers contributed to the chaos in the
      courtroom by staging several boycotts.
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