Although on Monday his lawyers launch an appeal against his conviction, for the moment former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is facing the death penalty. In the first of a series of up to 12 trials a Baghdad court found him guilty of crimes against humanity on Sunday and condemned him to death by hanging. Saddam greeted the verdict with contempt and defiance, damning the court and crying “Allah akhbar”, or “God is great”.
Also condemned to death for his part in the 1982 killing of over 140 people in the town of Dujail was Saddam’s half-brother and former Iraqi intelligence chief, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti. His secret police were one of the most feared branches of the Baathist regime. A death sentence was also passed on Aouad Ahmed al-Bandar, chief judge of the Revolutionary Court.
Former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan escaped with life imprisonment. Three other accused were given 15 years in jail, and one minor Baath party official from Dujail was acquitted of playing any part in the massacre. It is now unclear if Saddam will face any further trials, as the Iraqi authorities may decide to execute him on this conviction alone.