from reuters: An Iraqi court sentenced a shaken but defiant Saddam Hussein to hang on Sunday for crimes against humanity, sparking joy for Shi’ites he oppressed and resentment among hisfellow Sunnis across Iraq’s violent sectarian divide.
As mortar rounds crashed on warring Baghdad neighborhoods and police reported sporadic clashes despite a curfew on the capital, Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called for unity after the ousted leader was handed “the punishment he deserves”.
The United States, which set up the court after its invasion toppled Saddam in 2003, called it “a good day for the Iraqi people”. U.S. officials again dismissed charges the verdict was timed to aid President George W. Bush’s Republicans at elections on Tuesday that have been dominated by dismay at Iraq’s turmoil.
Defense lawyers, who said they saw little hope from an appeal in the coming months, dismissed it as “victor’s justice”.
Saddam, 69, initially refused to stand when brought in to hear the verdict from Kurdish chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman, at a quickfire, 45-minute hearing. When he did, shakily, with clear emotion, he yelled the defiant Arab battle cry “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Greatest) and “Long live Iraq” as the judgment was read.