The majority Shiites and Kurds, prosecuted during Saddam’s rule, celebrated. In the Shiite suburb of Sadr City, young men danced and chanted, “execute him,” reported Bloomberg News.
In the Sunni Adhamiya district, young people carried pictures of Saddam, shouting, “with my blood and my soul, I will defend you, Oh, Saddam.”
A curfew was imposed in Baghdad Monday, and set to be lifted Tuesday, to prevent an insurgent backlash, the prime minister’s office said, according to Reuters.
Saddam was found guilty of killing 148 men and boys in the Shiite town of Dujail after a nine-month trial marked by outbursts by Saddam and seven codefendants and the murders of three members of his defense team.
Two other defendants got the death penalty, another was sentenced to life in prison, three more got 15-year sentences and one was acquitted.
When the verdict was read, Saddam yelled, “Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies,” quoted the Associated Press.
President Bush hailed the trial as a “milestone in the Iraqi people’s effort to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law. … It is a major achievement for Iraq’s young democracy and its constitutional government.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the verdict signified that there would be no more mass graves in Iraq, a mark of Saddam’s reign.
“The verdict is as expected,” Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Shi’ite-led coalition government, was quoted as saying. “This is the least that Saddam deserved because his crimes were great. No further punishment was possible.”
Saddam’s legal team filed an appeal, and the process of reviewing the case began Monday.