- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced today to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted “God is great!”

As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, Saddam yelled out, “Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!”

Later, his lawyer said the former dictator had called on Iraqis to reject sectarian violence and refrain from revenge against U.S. forces.

The trial brought Saddam and his co-defendants before their accusers in what was one of the most highly publicized and heavily reported trials of its kind since the Nuremberg tribunals for members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million Jews in the World War II Holocaust

“The verdict placed on the heads of the former regime does not represent a verdict for any one person. It is a verdict on a whole dark era that has was unmatched in Iraq’s history,” Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, said.

Some feared the verdicts could exacerbate the sectarian violence that has pushed the country to the brink of civil war, after a trial that stretched over nine months in 39 sessions and ended nearly 3 1/2 months ago. Clashes immediately began Sunday in north Baghdad’s heavily Sunni Azamiyah district. Elsewhere in the capital, celebratory gunfire rang out.

“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, a Sunni political leader, told the Al-Arabiya satellite television station.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants were on trial for a wave of revenge killings carried out in the city of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on the former dictator. Al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party, then an underground opposition, has claimed responsibility for organizing the attempt on Saddam’s life.

In the streets of Dujail, a Tigris River city of 84,000, people celebrated and burned pictures of their former tormentor as the verdict was read.

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