Ban on Baghdad vehicles lifted

The Iraqi authorities have fully lifted a curfew in Baghdad after Saddam Hussein's appeal over his crimes against humanity conviction began.

    The curfew began on Sunday before the trial verdict

    The ban on vehicles was lifted on Tuesday morning after pedestrians were allowed back on the streets on Monday afternoon.

    Baghdad airport was also reopened on Tuesday after being closed for two days.

    An interior ministry spokesman credited the round-the-clock restrictions with curbing violence after the announcement of the verdict on Sunday, despite street celebrations by Shias and demonstrations by Saddam supporters in his hometown of Tikrit.

    There have been scattered celebrations on Monday in Shia-dominated parts of the country which are not covered by the curfew.

    Street marches

    In Hilla, 95km south of Baghdad, about 500 people marched in the streets carrying placards and shouting slogans denouncing the former president.

    "Yes, yes for the verdict, which we have long been waiting for," chanted the crowd, largely made up of students and government workers.

    In the mainly Sunni city of Baquba, about 250 pro-Saddam demonstrators took to the streets. They were dispersed by Iraqi soldiers for breaking the curfew in the province.

    Another 400 protesters marched through Samarra denouncing the verdict.

    The curfew was temporarily lifted in Tikrit to allow residents to shop and run errands.

    Angry crowds had gathered in the city on Sunday, holding aloft Saddam portraits, firing guns and chanting slogans pledging to avenge his execution.

    Dujail deaths

    Saddam was sentenced for "wilful killing", part of his indictment for crimes against humanity in ordering the death of 148 Shia residents of the town of Dujail after his 1982 assassination attempt.

    Angry pro-Saddam protests 
    were held in Tikrit on Sunday

    Judges set Saddam Hussein's appeal - which is automatic under Iraqi law when the defendant has been sentenced to death - under way on Monday.

    Raed al-Juhi, the spokesman for the tribunal which tried the former president, said the court has 10 days to submit its ruling justifying Saddam's execution to an appeals committee.

    The nine-judge panel will then invite input from the prosecution.

    Defence lawyers have said they will also submit their arguments.
      
    Final judgment

    Twenty days after that, the case will be sealed and the panel will retire to consider its verdict. No date has been set for their final judgment, which is binding.
     
    If the verdict is upheld, Saddam will be hanged within 30 days of its ruling.

    Bassam Ridha, a senior adviser to the prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, said: "We strongly feel that every day he lives is not good for the Iraqi people. We need to put an end to him, to this dictator. 

    "I hope this issue comes to an end quickly. Hopefully, in the next few months - before next summer - he will be dead," he said, adding that he was giving his personal view and not seeking to influence the verdict.
       

     
    Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, was also sentenced to die, as was Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, chairman of the so-called Revolutionary Court that ordered the Dujail executions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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