Halleluiah, Saddam Sentenced to Death

11/5/2006 2:02:00 AM

Saddam, 2 others sentenced to death 2 minutes ago

Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced Sunday to death by hanging for war crimes in the 1982 killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail, as the former leader, trembling, shouted "God is great!"

As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to hang, Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!"

Some feared the verdicts could intensify Iraq's sectarian violence after a trial that stretched over nine months in 39 sessions and ended nearly 3 1/2 months ago. Clashes immediately broke out Sunday in north Baghdad's heavily Sunni Azamiyah district, and a Sunni political leader condemned the court decision.

"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, the Sunni politician, told the al-Arabiya satellite television station.

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

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 other co-defendants were convicted of murder and torture and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

One defendant was acquitted for lack of evidence.

The guilty verdict for Saddam is expected 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.