[ 2006-12-30 11:37 ]
US-backed Iraqi television station Al Hurra said Saddam Hussein had been
executed by hanging shortly before 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Saturday.
The former Iraqi president ousted in April 2003 by a US-led invasion was
convicted in November of crimes against humanity over the killings of 148
Shi'ite villagers from Dujail after a failed assassination bid in 1982.
An appeals court upheld the death
penalty on Tuesday. Iraq's government has kept details of its
plans to conduct the execution completely secret amid concerns it could spark a
violent backlash from his former supporters.
attends the third day of his trial for genocide against Kurds in the
1980s, in Baghdad in this August 23, 2006 file
The witnesses to Saddam Hussein's
impending execution gathered Friday
in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state
television broadcasts footage of his regime's atrocities.
A top Iraqi official said Saddam will be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday,
Baghdad time, or 10 p.m. Friday EST.
A key court official said Iraq's government had told him to be ready to
attend the hanging of Saddam Hussein between 5.30 a.m. and 6 a.m. (0230-0300
GMT) on Saturday, according to Reuters' latest report.
The official, who spoke on condition of
anonymity as he had been sworn to secrecy, told Reuters
a government official telephoned to tell him he would be taken to the place of
execution in time for 5.30. The court official is among those who must, by law,
attend any execution.
The Iraqi government readied all the necessary documents, including a "red
card" - an execution order introduced during Saddam's dictatorship. As the hour
of his death approached, Saddam received two of his half brothers in his cell on
Thursday and was said to have given them his personal belongings and a copy of
Najeeb al-Nueimi, a member of Saddam's legal team in Doha, Qatar, said he too
requested a final meeting with the deposed Iraqi leader. "His daughter in Amman
was crying, she said 'Take me with you,'" al-Nueimi said late Friday. But he
said their request was rejected.
Munir Haddad, a judge on the appeals court that upheld Saddam's death
sentence, said he was ready to attend the hanging and that all the paperwork was
in order, including the red card.
"Saddam will be executed today or tomorrow," Haddad said.
"All the measures have been done. ... There is no reason for delays."