Saddam Hussein, former President and Supreme Dictator of Iraq was sentenced on Sunday, November 5, to death by hanging by the High Tribunal Court in Baghdad. Saddam, who had expected the verdict, again lashed out at the judge and other court officials, denouncing them as being illegal and as mere puppets of the occupying forces who (in his opinion) are still in virtual control of all governmental and legal functions in his country. Saddam’s half brother, Ali, also known as ‘Chemical Ali’ for his use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in Northern Iraq, was also sentenced to mount the gibbet for his crimes. Other former regime members were given various sentences ranging from 15 years to life. One, a lesser known former official, was even acquitted.
Saddam, shown here, moments after the death sentence was announced, so expected this verdict that he had said many time that he was not afraid to die. His court delaying tactics, which made the trial last more than 9 months, often resulting in his either boycotting court proceedings or being thrown out of the courtroom, was most likely done to just keep himself alive a day or week longer. The former dictator had even prepared a written message which his attorney read out afterwards in which Saddam called for unity among the different factions in Iraq and not to seek retaliation against the ‘infidel occupiers’.
Reactions among the Iraqi public have ranged from expressions of jubilation in Shiite controlled areas, to expressions of support for the former President among residents of his home town of Tikrit.
Saddam’s lawyers have 10 days to file an appeal against the sentence, resulting from an incident in a Shiite populated town north of Baghdad in 1982 when a foiled assassination plot against Hussein resulted in over 190 residents being tortured and executed. If a 9 member appeals court upholds the verdict, then Saddam can be fitted
for a special “necktie” 30 days hence.
The mere fact that the Iraqi judicial system could carry through this trial in which several of Saddam’s defense attorneys as well as members of the prosecution were killed, is an accomplishment in itself; and indicates that this strife-torn country may finally be on it’s way to sorting itself out, despite continuing violence. Another reason for the verdict could be to assist the Republican-led U.S. Administration, which is very worried about the Mid-Term Elections due to occur in less than two days time.
Other trials being planned against Saddam include the one involving the use of nerve gas against some Kurdish villages in northern Iraq in which thousands died horrible deaths. If the appeals court upholds the sentence, however, then the need for additional trials will be superfluous, enabling the sentence to be carried out, and thereby ridding Iraq and the world of a most despicable character.