Baghdad: Saddam Hussein was sentenced on Sunday to death by hanging for his role in a brutal crackdown nearly 25 years ago in Dujail – the once obscure Iraqi town that is now a symbol of his regime's cruelty.
The court said Saddam should be hanged within 30 days. Appeals, if any, must be filed with in 10 days, the court ruled, before it was adjourned for the day.
Saddam shouted at the judges, saying "Down with the court and you people. You are the enemies of humanity." He also abused US and "other Western forces".
Also sentenced to death were Barzan Hassan, Saddam Hussein's half-brother and former head of the intelligence agency, and Awad Bandar, the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court.
|SADDAM HUSSEIN: Deposed Iraqi President guilty of crimes against humanity,sentenced to death by hanging.|
|AWAD HAMAD AL-BANDAR: Saddam's co-accused and head of revolutionery court that had sentenced 143 Dujail residents in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Saddam on July 8, 1982. Also sentenced to death by hanging.|
|BARZAN IBRAHIM EL-HASAN AL-TIKRITI: Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, also given death penalty.|
|TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN: Saddam's vice-president, sentenced to life imprisonment.|
|ABDULLAH RUWAID: Baath Party official in Dujail region, believed responsible for Dujail arrests. Gets 15 years in jail.|
|MIZHER RUWAID: Son of co-defendant Abdullah Ruwaid and Baath Party official from Dujail region. Gets 15 years in jail.|
|ALI DAYEM ALI: Another Baath Party official from Dujail, faces 15 years in jail.|
|MOHAMMED AZZAWI ALI: Former Baath Party official from Dujail, acquitted for insufficient evidence.|
Bandar repeatedly screamed "Allahu Akhbar" – God is great – as he was being taken out of court.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, the former vice- president of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.
"This is very clear, and I tell the people today that the verdict was predetermined and has nothing to do with court proceedings," Ramadan said.
Three other defendants were each sentenced three to 15 years in jail, and one was acquitted.
Mohammed Azzawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was exonerated because, the court said, there was insufficient evidence against him.
Indefinite curfew has been imposed and the airport was closed in Baghdad even as celebratory gun fires were heard in many parts of the capital city. Baghdad and two other provinces have been put under indefinite curfew.
The verdicts come nearly three years after US-led forces plucked Hussein out of hiding and just a few days before US midterm elections, with the Iraqi war at center stage. The defendants filed into the courtroom to receive their sentences from a five-judge panel.
Defense attorney Ramsey Clark was also in court, but he was soon ousted by judges. The court asked Clark to leave, saying he had come here from America to mock the Iraqi people and this court.
The tribunal met in Baghdad to render verdicts for the co-defendants for their roles in a systematic attack on the Shiite town of Dujail after someone tried to assassinate Hussein during a visit on July 8, 1982.
The tribunal met amid heavy security and sweeping curfews in Baghdad and elsewhere, as authorities brace for violent reactions to the verdicts.
Each defendant in the trial found guilty can appeal. The sentences of life imprisonment and death allow for an automatic appeal. There is no limit on how long the appellate judges have to review the case file, but the statute states that a death sentence should be carried out within 30 days after all appeals are exhausted.
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.
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 are lower-level Baath Party officials from Dujail, who were charged with informing on Dujail residents who later died in prison or were sentenced to death. They are Abdullah Kadhem Ruwaid, Ali Dayem Ali, Mohammed Azzawi Ali, and Mizher Abdullah Ruwaid.
|Saddam invaded Iran in September 1980. The disastrous war lasted eight years and claimed a million lives.|
|The war with Iran had crippled the Iraqi economy and Saddam was desperate to increase his oil revenues. On August 2, 1991, his troops invaded Kuwait, accusing the country of overproducing oil.|
|It proved to be a costly mistake for Saddam. On January 16, 1991, he ignored a UN Security Council demand for Iraq's unconditional withdrawal and a coalition of countries, led by the United States attacked Iraq.|
|At the end of the six-week Gulf War, which Saddam famously called the mother of all battles, the Iraqis were forced out of Kuwait.|
|The Iraqi government collapsed within three weeks of the beginning of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq on March 20. By April, coalition forces occupied much of Iraq and Saddam had become US' most wanted fugitive in Iraq.|
|The resistance of the Iraqi Army had crumbled by then. When Baghdad fell to the coalition on April 9, Saddam was still preparing to leave.|
|Saddam's two sons were killed in a raid by US troops and in December 2003, US officials captured the former president near Tikrit.|
|Saddam was transferred to the Iraqi authorities on June 30, 2004, following the handover of power to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's interim government. Since then Saddam has been on trial. If convicted, he could be executed within 30 days of a final judgement.|
(With inputs from Joe Sterling)