Saddam Hussein sentenced to hang

Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, has been sentenced to death by a Baghdad court after being found guilty of crimes against humanity. Saddam has said he is not afraid of death.

Saddam Hussein sentenced to hang
When the judge announced the sentence, Saddam appeared shaken.

However he soon recovered and shouted: "Allahu Akbar!" [God is greatest] and "Long live the nation!"

Saddam was found guilty  by the Iraqi High Tribunal on Sunday for ordering the killing of 178 Shia civilians in the town of Dujail in 1982.

The court said that he and his fellow defendants had ordered the villagers' murder after members of Dawa, a Shia political party, tried to kill Saddam in Dujail in 1982.

Saddam's sentence will be automatically appealed and reviewed by a panel of appeal judges, who will decide whether or not to allow a retrial.

If the judgement stands, however, Saddam must be executed within 30 days of the appeals panel delivering its verdict, the chief prosecutor has said.

Saddam, 69 said that he wants to be executed by firing squad. However Iraqi law states that he will be executed by hanging.

Saddam was president of Iraq from 1979 to 2003, when his Sunni-dominated government was deposed by a US-led invasion.

Eleven-month trial

Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti, former head of the Iraqi secret police, and Awad Hamed Al-Bander, Saddam's chief judge were also sentenced to death by hanging by the court.

Saddam's eleven-month trial was marked by theatrics by both his defence council and by Saddam and his seven co-defendents.

US armoured vehicles are patrolling central Baghdad

During the final session Ramsey Clark, the former US attorney general and a member of Saddam's defence team was ejected from the courtroom.

Taha Yassin Ramdan, the former Iraqi vice president was sentenced to life in prison.

The court also sentenced three of Saddam co-defendent to 15 years in prison for their part in the Dujail killing and acquitted one minor Baath party official.

Baghdad tense

Before the verdict was announced, Iraq's government imposed a curfew in Baghdad, the mixed Sunni-Shia province of Diyala and Salahuddin, the province containing Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

But despite the curfews, Shias had gathered in Baghdad's Sadr City district to celebrate what they hoped would be a guilty verdict.

Meanwhile in and around Tikrit small groups of Saddam's supporters held protests and denounced the court's judgement.

Sheikh Al-Nadawi, the head of the Baigat group of tribes to which Saddam belongs, said: "Saddam lived a hero and will  die as a hero. The court was set up by his rivals... It is a  historical farce."

Government appeals for calm

On Saturday Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, said that he hoped Saddam would be found guilty, but also asked Iraqis to react calmly to the verdict.

Iraq's government imposed a curfew ahead of the verdict

"We hope the sentence matches what this man deserves for what he has done against the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people will express  happiness in the way they find appropriate," al-Maliki said.

"We call upon the Iraqi people to be calm, to be disciplined and to express themselves in ways that take into consideration the security challenge and the need to protect the lives of citizens," he added.

Speaking before the verdict was announced, Iran also said that it hoped Saddam would be executed.

"Execution is the very least sentence they can hand down to  Saddam Hussein," Mohammad Ali Hosseini, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said.

In 1980 Saddam launched a massive invasion of Iraq. The following war - which ended in 1988 - caused an estimated quarter of a million Iranian fatalities.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16