(From Belfast Telegraph)
Byline: Patrick Cockburn in Arbil, northern Iraq
It was a moment of the highest drama even by the standards of Iraq's bloodstained and dramatic history. Here was the man whose very name still makes some Iraqis quake in terror being told to stand up and listen as his sentence was read: "The court has decided to sentence Saddam Hussein al-Majid to be hanged until he is dead for crimes against humanity."
The verdict was followed intently from the mountains of Kurdistan to the marshes of the south, Iraqis waiting for news about the fate of their former leader. When it came, they reacted along sectarian lines. Among Shia and Kurds there was jubilation. Among the Sunni, Saddam's own community, there was anger and a conviction that the death sentence was no more than victor's justice.
"Everybody here feels disappointed and sad at the verdict," said Marwan, living in a Sunni district in south-west Baghdad. "But nobody is firing their guns into the air because there are so many police and troops around. Maybe something will happen later." In al-Adhamiyah, a famously tough Sunni district in east Baghdad, people held a demonstration against the sentence, but soon a mortar opened fire on them from al-Qhadamiyah, a Shia stronghold in the capital on the other side of the Tigris river.
But among past victims of Saddam, even the news that he was to die did not entirely quell the fear of retribution by his followers. "Saddam killed 11 people from my village, including my three brothers," said Abdul Rahman …