A sentence of death now hangs over former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and two former Iraqi officials. They were found guilty of crimes against humanity for the execution of one-hundred-forty-eight men and boys from the Shiite town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt in 1982.
The defendants were also accused of what the court called "widespread and systematic" persecution of the town’s inhabitants in the years that followed. Saddam Hussein's regime killed tens of thousands of other people, including Kurdish civilians who were attacked with chemical weapons.
During the trial, the Iraqi High Tribunal heard evidence from one-hundred-thirty witnesses. "The man who once struck fear in the hearts of Iraqis," said President George W. Bush, "had to listen to free Iraqis recount the acts of torture and murder that he ordered against their families and against them. The victims of Saddam Hussein's regime, said Mr. Bush, "have received a measure of the justice which many thought would never come."
President Bush said that the trial of the former Iraqi dictator was "a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law":
"It's a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy, and it's constitutional government. . . .Iraq has a lot of work ahead as it builds its society that delivers equal justice and protects all its citizens. Yet history will record today's judgment as an important achievement on the path to a free and just and unified society."
"We will continue to support Iraq's unity government as it works to bring peace to its great country," said President Bush. "We appreciate the determination and bravery of the Iraqi security forces who are stepping forward to defend their free nation. And," he said, "we give our thanks to the men and women of America's armed forces, who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom in Iraq, and. . . .for the security of the United States."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.