Prosecutors are asking the Iraqi Special Tribunal to sentence Saddam Hussein to death for crimes against humanity.
In 1982, one-hundred-forty-eight villagers were killed in Dujail in what prosecutors describe as a "revenge" attack after an alleged assassination attempt against the Iraqi dictator. After the murders, the families of the victims were forced to leave their homes and were detained in a camp in the desert.
Others charged along with Saddam Hussein include his half brother Barzan Ibrahim, a former Iraqi intelligence chief, and Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former Iraqi vice-president.
In his closing remarks, chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said, "The prosecution asks for the harshest penalty against them, because they spread corruption on earth, they showed no mercy even for the old, for women or for children, and even the trees were not safe from oppression. The law," he said, "calls for the death penalty and this what we ask be implemented."
The trial began in December 2005 and is adjourned until July 10th, when the defense will address the court. This trial is the first in a series. Others will focus on the 1988 Anfar campaign against Iraqi Kurds, the chemical weapons attack that killed some five-thousand Iraqi Kurds in Halabja, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and the brutal suppression of a Shi'ite rebellion that followed the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
President George W. Bush said "Saddam Hussein is now being called to account for his crimes by the free citizens of a free Iraq":
"Millions of Iraqis are seeing their independent judiciary in action. At the former dictator's trial, Iraqis recently saw something that's got to be truly amazing to them. When Saddam Hussein stood up and began to give a political speech, the presiding judge gaveled him down. Saddam growled at the judge, declaring, 'I'm the head of state'. The judge replied, You used to be the head of the state. And now you're a defendant'."
Mr. Bush says, "Three years ago any Iraqi who addressed Saddam in this way would have been killed on the spot. Now the former dictator is answering to a judge, instead of meting out arbitrary justice, and Iraqis are replacing the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.