Saddam Hussein executed by hanging

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein, deposed president of Iraq, was executed shortly after 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning local time (0300 GMT) after he was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court for crimes against humanity

Three Iraqi television channels first reported that Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging as ordered after a U.S. judge refused to stop the execution in a last-ditch attempt by the defendant late Friday.

Saddam had been found guilty of killing more than 148 members of the Shiite population. Witnesses to the execution gathered at the execution site, Baghdad’s "Green Zone." BBC News 24, however, has reported that the execution took place outside the "Green Zone", at a building known to the US Army as "Camp Justice".

"Saddam's body is in front of me," said an official in the prime minister's office. "It's over." The witness reported that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead and that there was "dancing around the body."

Iraqi state television has shown Saddam going to his death and then his lifeless body after his death.

The executions of Hussein's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, president of the Revolutionary Iraqi Court, were postponed to a later date. Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie announced this move, saying, "We wanted to have this day to have a historic distinction."

On CNN, Saddam's defence attorney alleged that the trial was "unfair" and that he and his co-counsel would fight for justice in Iraqi courts.

Tikrit, the town Saddam hid out in until his capture in late 2003 is under lockdown for 4 days due to the threat of violence. Coalition forces within Iraq are on high alert for possible retaliation attacks. On Sunday, Hussein was buried in the village of Ouja right outside of Tikrit.

US President George W. Bush released a statement commemorating the former dictator's death but also warned that roadside bombs and other routine acts of violence will not suddenly end with his execution: "Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror."

Meanwhile, many European nations appreciated Hussein facing justice but deplored the death penalty. "The European Union has a very consistent stand... on opposing the death penalty and it should not have been applied in this case either, even though there is no doubt about Saddam Hussein's guilt over serious violations against human rights," said Erkki Tuomioja, Finnish Foreign Minister and the current President of the European Union. Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, among others, also voiced a similar sentiment. The Vatican said that capital execution is always tragic news, even if it is about a person who has been guilty of grave crimes.

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