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Shaken Saddam sentenced to hang
Date: Monday, November 06 2006
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Shaken Saddam sentenced to hang

By Alastair Macdonald

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A visibly shaken Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to hang on Sunday at a lightning session of the U.S.-backed court trying him in Baghdad.

Two other senior aides, including his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti, will also hang if their automatic appeals fail. His former vice-president was sentenced to life in prison and three minor Baath party officials received long sentences.

Baghdad's Shi'ite-led government welcomed the verdict.

"This is the least Saddam deserved," Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told Reuters.

At first refusing to stand before the judge, the 69-year-old ousted president, who has defiantly defended killing and torturing Shi'ite opponents, eventually rose shakily to his feet in the dock to hear the verdict and sentence read out.

As chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman spoke, Saddam, his hands clenched behind his back, almost succeeded in drowning him out, yelling the Muslim battle cry of "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) and "Long Live Iraq!".

"The court has decided to sentence Saddam Hussein al-Majid to be hanged until he is dead for crimes against humanity," the judge said, ignoring a plea made by Saddam earlier in the trial that he should face a military firing squad, not the noose.

Abdul Rahman, prompted by the defence lawyers, ordered one of the guards around Saddam out of court for chewing gum and apparently laughing at the condemned man. Continued...

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