December 31, 2006 1:40:52 am
Saddam Hussein was convicted over the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail following an assassination attempt on him in 1982.
In July that year, furious at Hussein’s execution of a revered Shiite leader, a hit squad of local residents carried out the first serious attempt on his life, raining bullets on the presidential motorcade as it drove past.
The Iraqi leader survived unscathed, but in the savage state-sanctioned reprisals that followed, hundreds of Dujail residents were indiscriminately arrested, tortured, jailed and killed.
Compared to some of the other atrocities Hussein ordered, such as the massacre of tens of thousands of Shi’ites after the 1991 rebellion in southern Iraq, the case is relatively small. The reason it is being fast- tracked is simple: It is one of the few instances in which witnesses have survived to tell the tale.
After years of keeping their mouths shut, the survivors formed the Dujail Free Prisoners’ Association, and compiled a photo montage of those who died or disappeared.
The case also has a powerful resonance for many important figures in the current Iraqi administration.
Three men who allegedly orchestrated the massacre are Hussein’s co-defendants in the case: his half brother and former intelligence chief, Barzan Tikriti; former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Haman Bander Sadun, the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court that sentenced 143 men from Dujail to death.
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