[JURIST] Iraqi television is reporting that Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] has been executed. The hanging, reported by US-operated al-Hurra TV as having taken place around 6 AM Saturday local time (10 PM Friday ET), fulfills the death sentence handed down by the Iraqi High Tribunal last month [JURIST report] following the former dictator's conviction on charges [charging instrument, PDF] of crimes against humanity. Hussein and two co-defendants were accused [JURIST report] in connection with the killing, torturing and illegal detention of residents of Dujail, a primarily Shiite town where an unsuccessful attempt on Hussein's life took place in 1982.
One of Hussein's two US trial attorneys, Curtis Doebbler [personal website], commented on the execution in a statement made available to JURIST before the death sentence was carried out. Referring to Saddam's last public letter to Iraqis, Doebbler said, "Even in death the Iraqi President has maintained his integrity in calling for his people heal their wounds and to fight as bravely as he has against the American occupying forces." He continued:
The same, however, cannot be said about the American officials who have orchestrated the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and now the consequential murder of the former President and currently Prisoner of War after an unfair trial.
Even as the time of the extrajudicial execution approaches the United States government has until now denied the former Iraqi President's lawyers to be present at any execution that may take place. This violates the right to fair trial, particularly the right to legal counsel at all times even at an execution.
The United States government has denied the family of the former President the right to his remains if he is executed. One can only speculate that the reason for this immoral action is that the detaining power holding the Prisoner of war wants to make crystal clear its disdain for the law.
More importantly, the execution comes after a trial that has been determined to be unfair by every international expert who has reviewed it. This means that every person who participates in this trial and who did not try to stop it from being unfair is liable to prosecution for war crimes. These accomplices might also ponder the consequences of the United States' example in this case. The United States has said to the rest of world that it will not respect the law and nobody can make it do so by using peaceful legal means.
10:27 PM ET – ABC News is quoting a senior US military official as confirming that the execution took place at 10:06 ET.
10:40 PM ET – AP is reporting that state-run al-Iraqiya TV is now saying Saddam Hussein has been hanged.
11:11 PM ET – Al-Arabiya TV is reporting that the two Saddam co-defendants also condemned to death in the Dujail trial – Saddam's half-brother and former Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti and former head of the Iraqi revolutionary court Awad Hamed al-Bandar – have similarly been executed. Iraq's independent VOI news agency reports that "Saddam was executed first, then Tikriti and finally Bandar."
11:38 PM ET – AP is reporting that President Bush has called Saddam's execution "the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime" and has said it marks "an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror."
12:15 AM ET 12/30/07 – President Bush said:
Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial — the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime. Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.
Read the full statement
, now online from the White House.
4:20 PM ET 12/30/07 – Media reports say that although Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awad Bandar, the former chief judge of Iraq's Revolutionary Court were originally scheduled to be executed with Hussein, and were indeed reported hanged in initial wires, their hangings were postponed according to one Iraqi official "because we wanted to have this day to have an historic distinction." CNN has more.