Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Die

Nov. 5, 2006 — -- Saddam Hussein and two co-defendants have been found guilty of murder and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death by hanging over the 1982 killings of 148 people in the Iraqi town of Dujail.

The death sentences for Hussein, his half brother and a senior official in his regime marked the end to a trial that began more than a year ago. The trial cost the lives of three defense lawyers and was set back by the replacement of the main judge, among other interruptions.

"Although the outcome against Saddam Hussein was never in doubt, it was nonetheless a riveting moment when he walked in the courtroom this morning," said ABC News' Terry McCarthy, who was in the Baghdad courtroom when the verdict was read. "It was tense in the courtroom as the eight defendants faced their verdicts. Saddam at first, refused to stand up."

Potential for Lengthy Appeals Process

Despite the verdict, the saga of Saddam Hussein is not yet over. He has the right to have the case reviewed by automatic appeal, a process that could take many months.

On "Good Morning America Weekend Edition," Noah Feldman of the Council on Foreign Relations said Hussein's execution could be finalized in about a month.

"He gets an automatic appeal that will probably take at least a month. If the appeals court upholds the verdict, in principal, he's supposed to be executed within 30 days," Feldman said.

Feldman said it's unlikely the culmination of the trial will put an end to violence in Iraq.

"We already saw this morning that Shiite Iraqis were happy," he said. "Many Kurds were happy, although they would like to see the trial continue to include trials of issues having to do with them. And Sunnis were upset in Saddam's hometown. Not surprisingly, there were protests."

Feldman said while evidence proved Hussein's wrongdoing, the legal process may have been skewed.

"I think the biggest problem is that three of Saddam Hussein's defense attorneys were killed in the process of the trial," Feldman said. "That, alongside the fact that in the courtroom Saddam managed to cause havoc like he did today, has really undercut the perception around the world that it was a fair trial.

"There was evidence that definitively showed that he was responsible for these deaths, so in that sense, it was fair," Feldman added. "But the death of the lawyers calls the process into question, I'm afraid."

The Shiite community in Iraq celebrated the guilty verdict. In the town of Sadr, people handed out free meals in the streets.

However, Sunnis, many of whom still align themselves with Hussein, were furious.

"There were violent scenes in the Sunni neighborhood and in Tikrit," McCarthy said. "People were on the streets shouting 'We will avenge you, Saddam.'"

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events