BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled
Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday, Iraqi state-run television reported.
It was a grim end for the 69-year-old leader who had vexed three U.S. presidents. Despite his ouster, Washington, its allies and the new Iraqi leaders remain mired in a fight to quell a stubborn insurgency by Saddam loyalists and a vicious sectarian conflict.
Also hanged were Saddam’s half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court.
State-run Iraqiya television news announcer said “criminal Saddam was hanged to death and the execution started with criminal Saddam then Barzan then Awad al-Bandar.”
The station earlier was airing national songs after the first announcement and had a tag on the screen that read “with Saddam’s execution marks the end of a dark period of Iraq’s history.”
A U.S. judge on Friday refused to stop Saddam’s execution, rejecting a last-minute court challenge.
The execution came 56 days after a court convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from a town where assassins tried to kill the dictator in 1982. Iraq’s highest court rejected Saddam’s appeal Monday and ordered him executed within 30 days.