Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sadam received death penalty. Iraqi celebrates

BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday handed down death penalty by hanging to ousted President Saddam Hussein and two of his senior aides for the Dujail case.

Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, chief judge of Saddam's Revolutionary Court, were sentenced to death over the execution of 148 people of Dujail in crackdown on the town after a failed assassination attempt against Saddam in 1982.

Despite a curfew imposed on Baghdad, thousands of Iraqi Shiites took to the streets in Sadr City to celebrate the verdict, raising posters of Shiite radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In a statement issued by his office, al-Sadr called for peaceful celebrations and urged people not to attack Sunnis.

"You are called upon now to pray a thanksgiving prayer," said the statement, which was read out through loudspeakers of mosques across the Shiite slum.

Similar celebrations were reported in other Shiite districts of the capital and other cities, most of them apparently peaceful.

Iraqi Sunnis, who once dominated during Saddam's reign, protested against the verdict shortly after it was announced.

Hundreds of residents in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, demonstrated to voice opposition to the verdict in the Arba'ien Street despite a curfew imposed on Salahudin province.

"God is greater that traitors and agents of America," the demonstrators chanted.

A local police source told Xinhua that the number of the demonstrators was increasing despite U.S. troops "shot bullets in the air to disperse the protesters."

In the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, U.S. troops detained some demonstrators who insisted on taking to the streets to protest against Saddam's death penalty.

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Dalai Lama calls for sparing Saddam Hussein's life

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama urged Iraqi authorities on Monday to spare the life of Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death this month, saying the guilty should get a chance to reform.

A U.S.-backed Iraqi court found Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death for his role in the killing of 148 Shi'ite villagers after a failed assassination bid in 1982.

"The death penalty, although fulfils a preventive function, is clearly a form of revenge," a statement from the Dalai Lama's office in India said.

"However horrible the act committed, His Holiness believes that everyone has the potential to improve and correct themselves.

Human rights groups and legal experts have called Saddam's year-long trial, during which three defence lawyers were killed, deeply flawed. He may have an outside chance of escaping execution through an appeals process which could take months.

Tibet's spiritual leader, who lives in exile in India, praised the European Union for opposing the death penalty to Saddam.

The verdict has satisfied countries the former Iraqi dictator invaded but caused resentment amongst some Arabs who see him as the victim of a U.S.-inspired show trial.

"His Holiness hopes that in this case, as in all others, human life will be respected and spared," the statement said.