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Saddam Hussein Sentenced To Death By Hanging

(CNN) Saddam Hussein was sentenced Sunday to death by hanging for his role in a brutal crackdown nearly 25 years ago in Dujail -- the once obscure Iraqi town that is now a symbol of his regime's cruelty.

Also sentenced to death were Barzan Hassan, Saddam Hussein's half-brother and former head of the intelligence agency, and Awad Bandar, the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court.

Bandar repeatedly screamed "Allahu Akhbar" -- God is great -- as he was being taken out of court.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, the former vice president of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.

"This is very clear, and I tell the people today that the verdict was predetermined and has nothing to do with court proceedings," Ramadan said.

Three other defendants were each sentenced three to 15 years in jail, and one was acquitted.

Mohammed Azzawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was exonerated because, the court said, there was insufficient evidence against him.

The 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 stage.

The defendants filed into the courtroom to receive their sentences from a five-judge panel.

Defense attorney Ramsey Clark was also in court, but he was soon ousted by judges. The court asked Clark to leave, saying he had come here from America to mock the Iraqi people and this court.

The tribunal met in Baghdad to render verdicts for the co-defendants for their roles in a systematic attack on the Shiite town of Dujail after someone tried to assassinate Hussein during a visit on July 8, 1982.

The tribunal met amid heavy security and sweeping curfews in Baghdad and elsewhere, as authorities brace for violent reactions to the verdicts.

This chapter of the much-criticized trial, which began in October 2005, comes nearly three years after U.S.-led forces plucked Hussein out of hiding and a few days before U.S. midterm elections on November 7.

Each defendant found guiltycan appeal. The sentences of life imprisonment and death allow for an automatic appeal.

There is no limit on how long the appellate judges have to review the case file, but the statute states that a death sentence should be carried out within 30 days after all appeals are exhausted.

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.

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 remain missing.

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 are lower-level Baath Party officials from Dujail, who were charged with informing on Dujail residents who later died in prison or were sentenced to death. They are Abdullah Kadhem Ruwaid, Ali Dayem Ali, Mohammed Azzawi Ali, and Mizher Abdullah Ruwaid.

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