Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Death

Today, Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal for the massacres committed by his regime in the town of Dujayl.

Saddam Hussein's trial is a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law -- it's a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy and its constitutional government.

During Saddam Hussein's trial, the court received evidence from 130 witnesses. The man who once struck fear in the hearts of Iraqis had to listen to free Iraqis recount the acts of torture and murder that he ordered against their families and against them. Today, the victims of this regime have received a measure of the justice which many thought would never come.

Saddam Hussein will have an automatic right to appeal his sentence; he will continue to receive the due process and the legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people. Iraq has a lot of work ahead as it builds its society that delivers equal justice and protects all its citizens. Yet history will record today's judgment as an important achievement on the path to a free and just and unified society.

The United States is proud to stand with the Iraqi people. We will continue to support Iraq's unity government as it works to bring peace to its great country. We appreciate the determination and bravery of the Iraqi security forces, who are stepping forward to defend their free nation. And we give our thanks to the men and women of America's Armed Forces, who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom in Iraq -- and they've sacrificed for the security of the United States. Without their courage and skill, today's verdict would not have happened. On behalf of the American people, I thank every American who wears the uniform, I thank their families -- and I thank them for their service and continued sacrifice.

Thank you very much.

An Iraqi court has convicted Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity and sentenced the former dictator to death by hanging. Celebrations and scattered protests erupted throughout Iraq after the verdict was announced.

A visibly upset Saddam Hussein shouts "God is great" and "Long live Iraq," as the court's chief judge delivers the final verdict.

The Iraqi High Tribunal convicted Saddam of ordering the killing of 148 Shi'ite men in the village of Dujail, just north of Baghdad, in 1982.

As he was led out of court, Saddam defiantly called the judge a traitor, and denounced what he called "the occupiers in Iraq."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the verdict closes a particularly dark chapter in the country's history.

He says the decision also signals the start of a new era in Iraq. One, he says, where everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.

The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad also released a statement calling the verdict an important milestone for Iraq.

Two of Saddam's co-defendants, including his half-brother (Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti) and the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court (Awad Hamed al-Bander) were also sentenced to death.

Former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan received life in prison. Three other defendants received 15-year sentences; an eighth was cleared of all charges.

Celebratory gunfire erupted throughout much of the capital Sunday after the death sentence was announced. In Baghdad's largest Shi'ite community, Sadr City, jubilant demonstrators were dancing in the streets.

Chief defense attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi said that, during a meeting with his lawyers, Saddam Hussein urged the Iraqi people to, "... avoid any act of vengeance targeting the nationals of countries that participated in the occupation of Iraq." He also said Saddam called for Iraqis to reject sectarian violence.

A strict daytime curfew is still officially in effect across the capital and in two neighboring provinces to avoid violence. Nevertheless, local media reported several protests in mostly Sunni neighborhoods in northern Baghdad.

And, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, about two-thousand supporters defied the curfew and staged a mass protest.

On 5 November 2006, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging, for the killing of 148 Shiites from Dujail, in retaliation for the assassination attempt of 8 July 1982. When the judge announced the verdict, Saddam shouted, "Long live the people. Long live the Arab nation. Down with the spies. God is great." Chief defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi later quoted a statement from Saddam Hussein given just before the Court issued its verdict. Saying that the former Iraqi President urged his countrymen to "unify in the face of sectarian strife". Al-Dulaimi also added that Saddam's message to the people was to "pardon and do not take revenge on the invading nations, its civilians".

An appeal, mandated by the Iraqi judicial system, followed. There was speculation that the appeals could last years, postponing his actual execution. However, on 26 December, Saddam's appeal was rejected and the death sentence was given. No further appeals were possible and Saddam had to be executed within 30 days of that date. The decision still had to be ratified by the Iraqi President but could not be commuted. Judge Arif Shaheen, one of the nine appeal judges, said, "It cannot exceed 30 days. As from tomorrow the sentence could be carried out at any time. The appeals court has issued its verdict. What we have decided today is compulsory."

On 30 December 2006 at approximately 6:05am Baghdad time, Saddam Hussein's sentence was carried out and he was executed by hanging.

Among Saddam's co-defendants, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, his half-brother and Iraq's intelligence chief at the time of the Dujail killings, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, who issued death sentences to Dujail residents as head of a Revolutionary Court, were also sentenced to death by hanging. The former Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison. However, the sentence was later changed to death by hanging on 12 February 2007, and Ramadan was executed on 20 March 2007.

Former Baath party officials in the Dujail region Abdullah Kadhem Roweed Al-Musheikhi, his son Mizher Abdullah Roweed Al-Musheikhi, and Ali Daeem Ali were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Mohammed Azawi Ali, also a Baath party official in Dujail region, was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Saddam Hussein has been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.

The former Iraqi leader was convicted over the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail following an assassination attempt on him in 1982.

His half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Iraq's former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar were also sentenced to death.