AGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi High
Tribunal on Sunday sentenced a combative Saddam Hussein and two
other defendants to death by hanging for a brutal crackdown in
1982 in the Shiite town of Dujail.
Iraqis under a curfew in Baghdad spilled out
into the streets in celebration of the verdict, news footage
showed. But protests were held in Saddam Hussein's hometown.
Along with Hussein, his half-brother and
former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan, and former chief judge
of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar also got death. (Watch
Hussein shout protests during sentencing -- 4:05 )
Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former vice president
of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.
"The verdict was predetermined and has
nothing to do with court proceedings," Ramadan said.
Mohammed Azzawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath
Party official, was acquitted because of insufficient evidence
against him, the court said.
The three others -- Abdullah Kadhem Ruwaid,
Ali Dayem Ali, and Misher Abdullah Ruwaid -- were sentenced to
15 years each.
There will be automatic appeals for the four
who were sentenced to death and life in prison.
The 50-minute session was dramatic. Hussein
entered with a Quran in hand, as he had in the past. He began
screaming Allahu Akhbar -- God is great -- as the verdict and
sentencing was read.
He also argued with the chief judge and
shouted, "Damn you and your court."
As the judge ordered him taken away, Hussein
said, "Don't push me, boy."
Bandar also screamed Allahu Akhbar as he was
taken out of court.
Defense attorney Ramsey Clark, a former U.S.
attorney general, was ousted by judges early in the session. The
court asked him to leave, saying he had come here from the
United States to mock the Iraqi people and the court.
Another defense attorney, Ziad al-Najdawi,
angrily told reporters as he left the courtroom, "That's the
The Dujail case stemmed from a crackdown
against townspeople after a 1982 assassination attempt against
Hussein in the town. The crackdown involved the ordered
executions of 148 males.
Before Sunday's verdicts were announced, a
curfew was imposed in Baghdad and two provinces -- Diyala and
Salaheddin -- with large Sunni populations ahead of expected
Predominantly Shiite and Kurdish provinces
were not under curfew.
About 2,000 protesters in Saddam Hussein's
hometown of Tikrit on Sunday defied the curfew and demonstrated
in support of the former leader.
A witness said the protesters carried posters
of the former president and were shooting into the air.
The numbers of demonstrators grew after the
sentence was announced. A complete movement ban -- both people
and vehicles -- was imposed on Sunday in the provinces of
Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin -- where Tikrit is located.
The Baghdad International Airport also shut
down until further notice.
This verdicts come nearly three years after
U.S.-led forces plucked Hussein out of hiding and just a few
days before U.S. midterm elections, with the Iraqi war at center
The U.S. ambassador in Iraq praised the
verdicts and sentencing as "an important milestone for Iraq."
"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," Zalmay
Khalilzad said in a statement issued shortly after the verdicts
Outbursts and walkouts
The Dujail trial, the first in what is a series of proceedings
against former regime officials, began October 19, 2005, and
ended July 27. It was a turbulent courtroom battle witnessed on
TV across the globe.
It was marked by outbursts and harangues from
Hussein and his co-defendants, lawyer walkouts, much-criticized
court actions, and complaints from lawyers about poor security.
There were grave concerns about security for legal teams and
their families; three defense lawyers were killed. (Full story)
Witness testimony and prosecutors got their
case across, however. According to court documents, the
military, political and security apparatus in Iraq and Dujail
killed, arrested, detained and tortured men, women and children
in the town. Homes were demolished and orchards were razed.
The Revolutionary Court sentenced 148 males
to death, with Saddam's signature ratifying the order.
But there were other deaths as well -- nine
people were killed during the destruction of orchards, and many
of the 399 people who had been detained were either killed or
Hussein, Hassan and Ramadan were charged with
willful killing, deportation or forcible transfer of population;
imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in
violation of fundamental norms of law; torture; enforced
disappearance of persons, and other inhumane acts of a similar
character intentionally causing great suffering; or serious
injury to the body or to the mental or physical health.
Bandar was charged with willful killing by
issuing the death sentences for the 148 people.
The remaining defendants were lower-level
Baath Party officials from Dujail, who were charged with
informing on residents who later died in prison or were
sentenced to death.
Hussein is also in the middle of another
trial involving the 1988 Anfal campaign, the government
offensive in the country's Kurdish region. Hussein is charged in
that case with genocide.
- - -
* Execution must be
within 30 days, according to one
CNN report. (Wes Penre)