Saddam Hussein Sentenced To Hang...
Saddam Hussein, who oversaw the murder of thousands of Iraqis during twenty-four years as their president, was convicted of committing crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of one hundred forty-eight people in a Shiite Muslim town. Iraq's former leader was sentenced to die by hanging. Saddam refused to stand and face the court when the verdict was read, and had to be hauled to his feet by bailiffs.
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.
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 eighty-four thousand, people celebrated and burned pictures of their former tormentor as the verdict was read.
Saddam may not die by the rope soon. He has an automatic appeal to a nine-judge panel, which can take all the time it wants to review the case, and in the meantime Saddam will stand trial for the massacres of the Kurds during his reign. The appellate panel may choose to allow that entire trial before giving its verdict on the appeal, as Iraq would have to execute Saddam within thirty days of their decision if they uphold the verdict. The Kurds might want Saddam alive for the entirety of this next trial, although security concerns might convince them otherwise.
It's worth noting that Saddam would not ever have faced justice at all had the United States not acted to remove him from power. Kurds and Shi'ites would still wind up in mass graves, face the rape rooms at hospitals and police stations, they would still have their tongues cut out for speaking out against tyranny and face mutilations for any perceived rebelliousness. Instead, Uday and Qusay have gone onto significantly warmer climes than the Iraqi desert and Saddam will stretch a rope after having been tried in a much fairer court than Iraqis ever experienced under his rule.
The trial has been conducted in Iraq and by Iraqis. It's successful conclusion will be a key step in the establishment of the rule of law, for, not only does it exact justice from the dictator, but it shows ordinary people facing their former tormentor in court as equals. It shows the people that they can get justice within a democratic system.
That's justice, and no matter what you think of the war, the verdict is a triumph for humanity and the Iraqi people. A mass murderer has been brought to justice.