While the man labelled the Butcher of Baghdad had few defenders, a number of prominent human rights advocates have criticized his death sentence, and the trial that preceded it, as a travesty of justice.
During the year-long proceedings three defence lawyers were murdered, a judge resigned and two others were fired, lawyers boycotted the courtroom and Saddam told the tribunal to “go to hell.”
“There were a number of concerns as to the fairness of the original trial, and there needs to be assurance that these issues have been comprehensively addressed,” said Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, before Saddam’s hanging was carried out. “I therefore call on the Iraqi authorities not to act precipitately in seeking to execute the sentence in these cases.”
Arbour, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, indicted Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who later died before the court could arrive at a verdict.
Saddam was executed this morning following the rejection of an appeal earlier this week. The Iraqi government had a 30-day deadline to carry out the death sentence, but pressed for the earliest time.