Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, was pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging earlier today by the Iraqi High Tribunal.
The charges against him were related to the ordering of the killing of 148 Shia civilians in the town of Dujail in 1982.
Saddam’s sentence will be automatically appealed and reviewed by a panel of nine appeal judges, who will decide whether or not to allow a retrial.
If the judgement stands, however, Saddam must be executed within 30 days of the appeals panel delivering its verdict, which has to be ratified by Jalal Talibani, the Iraqi president.
Saddam, 69, said that he wants to be executed by firing squad. However Iraqi law states that he will be executed by hanging.
Saddam’s reaction to the verdict was to shout: “Long live the Iraqi people, damnation for the damned. You are the servants of the colonizers, Long live the people, long live the Arab nation! Down with the agents. Down with the occupier.”
Reactions are mixed to this verdict in Iraq, the Arab countries and around the world; with some people expressing joy, others anger and some others disagreement.
US president George W. Bush calls the verdict “a major achievement for Iraq’s young democracy”.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: “The Saddam Hussein era is in the past now, as was the era of Hitler and Mussolini,” calling Hussein the worst ruler ever in Iraq. He also said he hoped that the verdict would help bring about reconciliation.
There’s also some buzz going on about how this verdict was announced just a couple of days before the US mid-term elections, and that it maybe an attempt to tip the scale towards the republicans.
Anyway, personally, I think it was very clear from the beginning that a death sentence awaited Saddam at the end of the line, and that this eleven month trial was more or less an act.
Saddam is a criminal, and many innocent lives were lost at his orders, so he deserves whatever he gets, but let’s not forget that much more innocent Iraqi people died because of George W. Bush’s orders than his.