Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for the killing of 148 Shia Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt against him. “It just confirms…that this is a political court which is a creature of the U.S. occupiers and seeks revenge rather than delivering justice,” Khalil al-Dulaimi, one of Hussein’s lawyers, told Reuters.

International human rights groups, which had called for the case to be heard abroad, said the killing of three defense lawyers, the resignation of a judge over political interference, and flaws in evidence meant that it fell short of a fair trial.

“I believe the trial was fair,” said Jerry Joplin, associate professor of justice and policy Studies, “but I see no advantage in killing Hussein.”

While there are many people who believe the verdict was unfair, there are equal amounts of people who believe justice was served.

“The court has proven to be professional and just,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd, to Reuters. Saddam was given the justice he denied to the people of Iraq over 35 years.”

President Bush said, “(The verdict is) a milestone in the Iraqi people’s effort to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law.”

Heather Siegel, junior and political science major, agrees that justice was served.

“I don’t usually support the death penalty, but I think in cases of mass murderers, such as Saddam, it is really the only option. They do not deserve to continue to live,” said Siegel. “I also think that there is a difference between fairness and justice, and in the case of Saddam, it was just to give him the death penalty.”

However, many people believe that the verdict’s timing is suspicious.

“The whole trial process has been unfair,” Mohammed Maher, a 27-year old computer programmer living in Iraq said to the BBC. “And the proof of this is that the verdict has been delivered two days before the mid-term elections in the U.S. in which George Bush’s Republican Party is struggling against fierce competition.”

Ken Gilmore, associate professor of political science, agrees with Maher about the verdict’s timing, and adds that he doesn’t think fairness can be achieved when all sides engage in such heinous violence.

“While Prime Minister al-Maliki and President Bush can argue that Iraq’s judiciary is ‘independent,’ I have no doubt that the verdict was influenced by the run-up to the mid-term elections,” said Gilmore. “Throughout his campaign, the President kept telling us that the insurgents were trying to influence the elections by attacking U.S. soldiers and Iraqis. Then, President Bush immediately used the verdict in his campaign appearances to argue that significant benefits have come from the war.”

According to the BBC, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a long time critic of Hussein, believes that hanging him will only intensify ethnic and sectarian divisions between Iraqis.

“Carrying out this verdict will explode violence like waterfalls in Iraq,” Mr. Mubarak told Egyptian state-run newspapers. “The verdict will transform (Iraq) into pools of blood and lead to a deepening of the sectarian and ethnic conflicts.”

Others believe that any violence in Iraq related to carrying out Hussein’s sentence would only be temporary.

“In the short-run, yes, there will be a spike in violence,” said Gilmore. “However, any significant increase in violence directly related to Saddam’s death would probably be temporary. There is a much larger dynamic in Iraq, between Sunnis and Shiites that will continue as long as Iraq’s two main religious groups disagree over the shape of the new government and the distribution of the country’s resources.