Security forces are on high alert in Iraq ahead of today’s expected verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein. The country has seen an upsurge in violence in recent weeks and authorities fear the outcome will lead to even more bloodshed. All Iraqi army leave has been cancelled and state television announced an open-ended curfew in Baghdad and two flashpoint provinces.
The capital’s airport has also been closed as an additional precaution. After a meeting with leaders from the restive city of Amarah, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said he expected the ruling would be made today. He said: “We hope this man will get the verdict he deserves for what he did to the Iraqi people.”
The ousted president and seven co-accused have been charged with crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shi’ite villagers. That followed an attempt on his life in the town of Dujail in 1982. He faces the death penalty if found guilty but the sentence will not be carried out until appeals have been carried out. Analysts say that could take years.