Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam, co-defendants sentenced to hang

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced Saddam Hussein to the gallows for crimes against humanity, closing a quarter-century-old chapter of violent suppression in this land of long memories, deep grudges and sectarian slaughter.

The former Iraqi dictator and six subordinates were convicted and sentenced for the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town after an attempt on his life there.

Shiites and Kurds, who had been tormented and killed in the tens of thousands under Saddam's iron rule, erupted in celebration — but looked ahead fearfully for a potential backlash from the Sunni insurgency that some believe could be a final shove into all-out civil war.

Saddam trembled and shouted "God is great" when the hawk-faced chief judge, Raouf Abdul-Rahman, declared the former leader guilty and sentenced him to hang.

All-day curfew in Baghdad (Washington Post):

"We hope that the verdict will give this man what he deserves for the crimes he committed against the Iraqi people," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in remarks
carried on state television... Maliki called on people "to remain calm and express their happiness in an appropriate way in this current situation, in a way that does not risk their lives."

UPDATE: Saddam's verdict of death was read out yesterday. But apparently only that – death. Not precisely what he was convicted of or why. On NBC's BLOGGIN BAGHDAD, Richard Engle explains:

The final court session and verdict today were fast, direct and clear, but not clear at all.

In less than 10 minutes, Saddam Hussein was told he was guilty of crimes against humanity, but never exactly how or why...

The full verdict, a document of several hundred pages, explaining how and why today’s judgment was reached was not released. U.S. officials said it should be ready by Thursday. So why issue the verdict today? U.S. court advisors told reporters today it was delayed mainly for technical reasons.

They put in all manner of caveats explaining how there's no proof the verdict was timed for political purposes. But it certainly seems like they couldn't actually get the verdict ready for the November 5th slam dunk. So they announced it for US electoral benefit. And they'll do their best to get the actual verdict done by Thursday.

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