[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 15:20 GMT
Curfew eased after Saddam verdict
Iraqi reads newspaper as curfew is lifted in Baghdad
The verdict was announced after a trial lasting just over a year

Iraqi authorities have begun to lift a round-the-clock curfew in Baghdad, a day after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity.

Civilians have been allowed back out into the capital and two other provinces, but vehicles remain banned until Tuesday morning.

Streets had been deserted for two days in anticipation of the verdict.

An automatic appeal will be launched against the sentence and is due to be heard by a panel of nine judges.

The BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad says activity was already returning to the streets before the partial lifting of the curfew.

Police in Baghdad were allowing people to make essential journeys like going to hospital or buying provisions from shops that had opened.

But our correspondent says fears of an upsurge in violence remain, amid continuing anger among Iraq Sunnis over the verdict.

On Sunday, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging over the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail following an assassination attempt on him in 1982.

Second trial

The appeals process for the former Iraqi leader and six co-defendants - two of whom were sentenced to death, one to life in prison and three to 15-year jail terms - is expected to take only a few weeks.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Guilty verdicts on murder charges are automatically sent to appellate panel within 10 days
It can take as little as 20 days for the appeal to be heard
If sentence is upheld, execution must be carried out within 30 days
Iraq's tripartite presidency must sign the execution papers
Sentence may be delayed to allow conclusion to Anfal trial

If the sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days of the decision.

BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, in Baghdad, says the hangings could therefore take place within two or three months, although there are a lot of question marks over the process.

Saddam Hussein is due back in court on Tuesday when a separate trial for atrocities committed against Iraqi Kurds resumes.

Some legal experts have argued that the so-called Anfal killings trial should be allowed to reach a verdict before Saddam Hussein is executed.

But Iraqi officials say the hanging would not be delayed artificially to allow this to take place.

Saddam Hussein's defence lawyers have told the BBC that they have not received official notification of the death sentence, which they say is required before they launch their appeal.

Our correspondent says that although this is a technicality, it shows how ineffectual a lot of the rules and regulations governing the trial process have been.

'Milestone'

The judgment has been met with mixed reactions in Iraq and around the world.

HAVE YOUR SAY
This is just another sad episode in the tragic drama of Iraq
Mohammed, Iraq

Shortly after the verdict, there were jubilant scenes in Sadr City, a predominantly Shia district of Baghdad, and in the holy city of Najaf.

But in Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit there was fury, as supporters of the former president defied a curfew to parade with photographs of their hero.

Almost three years since his capture, soaring sectarian violence has brought Iraq to the brink of civil war - and correspondents say few Iraqis think the trial verdict will ease the conflict.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, has hailed the sentence as a "verdict on a whole dark era".

President Bush called the verdict a "milestone" in the efforts of the Iraqi people "to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law".

White House spokesman Tony Snow denied suggestions that the timing of the verdict had been orchestrated to coincide with crucial mid-term elections as "preposterous".

Execution concerns

Several European leaders welcomed the guilty verdict, but there has also been concern over the use of the death sentence.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain opposed the death penalty "whether it's Saddam or anybody else".

Finland, which currently holds the presidency of the EU and is opposed to the death penalty, called on Iraq to refrain from carrying out the execution.

UN human rights chief Louise Arbour called for a moratorium on executions and said the defendants' rights to a fair appeal must be "fully respected".

The verdict was welcomed in Kuwait, which was invaded by the former Iraqi president in 1990, and Iran, which fought a bitter war with Iraq in the 1980s.

But the Palestinian ruling party, Hamas, condemned the sentence as politically motivated, remembering support Saddam Hussein had given the Palestinian people.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Scenes from Iraq after the Saddam verdict





FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific