Saddam Hussein is dead. The former president of Iraq was executed by hanging at around 6am local time. The execution took place in a Justice Ministry facility in northern Baghdad. The decision to execute Saddam and his fellow defendants today was apparently taken after a phone call between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.
The former dictator learned of his impending execution by being handed a red card - a system that was introduced during Saddam's own term in office. According to the Iraqi government, Saddam's body will be buried in a secret location. His death is unlikely to have any effect on the level of violence, according to local observers.
On Thursday, the former Iraqi President had a final meeting with two of his half-brothers, to whom he gave his will. An Iraqi government official has said that the execution was filmed for historic purposes, but the film would not be released. Photographs of Saddam Hussein's body are likely to be released, however, by the authorities.
It was in 1982 that he survived an assassination attempt in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town south of Baghdad. He ordered his security forces to attack the town. 148 residents were later executed. In 1990, Saddam ordered his forces to invade Kuwait, provoking Operation Desert Storm and the First Gulf War. Iraqi troops were ejected, but Saddam survived.
In the following years Saddam crushed uprisings by the Kurds and by Shiite Muslims in the South. In 2003, Allied Forces invaded Iraq and Saddam fled. He was found some months later hiding in a hole by US soldiers. US authorities handed him over to the Iraq government, which then convened a civilian trial in 2005. On November 5 this year Saddam was found guilty and sentenced to death, the sentence that was carried out this morning.