Sunday, November 05, 2006

Death By Hangin'

FOXNews - Saddam Hussein, the iron-fisted dictator who ruled Iraq for nearly a quarter of a century, was found guilty of crimes against humanity Sunday and sentenced to death by hanging.

The so-called Butcher of Baghdad, who was president of Iraq from 1979 until he was deposed by Coalition forces in April 2003, was convicted of the 1982 killing of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail.

The visibly shaken former leader shouted "God is great!" as Iraq's High Tribunal announced his sentence.

Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of the former Revolutionary Court, were sentenced to join Saddam on the gallows for the Dujail killings after an unsuccessful assassination attempt during a Saddam visit to the city 35 miles north of Baghdad.

Clashes immediately broke out in north Baghdad's heavily Sunni Azamiyah district where police were battling men with machine guns. At least seven mortar shells slammed to earth around the Abu Hanifa mosque, the holiest Sunni shrine in the capital. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Celebratory gunfire rang out elsewhere in Baghdad, and the people in Sadr City, the capital's Shiite slum, celebrated in the streets, calling out "Where are you Saddam? We want to fight you."

A jubilant crow of young men carried pictures of radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and handed out candy to children.

In Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, 1,000 people defied the curfew and carried pictures of the city's favorite son through the streets.

Some declared the court a product of the U.S. "occupation forces" and decried the verdict.

"By our souls, by our blood we sacrifice for you Saddam" and "Saddam your name shakes America."

People were celebrating in the streets of Dujail, a Tigris River city of 84,000, as the verdict was read. They burned pictures of their former tormentor.

The United States Embassy immediately issued a statement under the name of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who said the verdicts "demonstrate the commitment of the Iraqi people to hold them (Saddam and his co-defendants) accountable."

"Although the Iraqis may face difficult days in the coming weeks, closing the book on Saddam and his regime is an opportunity to unite and build a better future," Khalilzad said.

After the verdict was read, a trembling Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people, and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!"

He initially refused Chief Judge Raouf Adbul-Rahman's order to rise to hear the verdict and sentence. Two bailiffs lifted Saddam to his feet, and he remained standing but turned to one guard, telling him to stop twisting his arm.