There has been another gruesome discovery as violence escalates in Iraq ahead of an expected verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein. The bodies of 56 people were found in various parts of the capital Baghdad. Police say they showed signs of having been tortured and were apparently the latest victims of the sectarian conflict between Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims.
Bloodshed across the country is running at peak levels and tensions are likely to escalate if a ruling in the Saddam case comes this Sunday as expected. The ousted leader is being tried on charges of crimes against humanity over the mass killings of Shi’ite villagers after a 1982 assassination attempt. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death.
One of his lawyers spoke ominously of such an outcome. “If this tribunal ends with the death penalty of the president and his comrades, believe me, the doors of hell will be opened in Iraq and its neighbours. No one in Iraq or outside will live in peace,” he said. Against this background, the US National Intelligence Director John Negroponte has met leaders in Iraq to discuss the worsening security situation. Seven more US soldiers were killed in attacks by insurgents in different parts of the country.