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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 15:59 GMT
Saddam Hussein's last moments
Saddam Hussein at the gallows
It is not known who filmed the latest footage of the execution

In the wake of the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a fuller picture has gradually emerged of how his final moments played out.

In an interview with the BBC, one of the witnesses, Judge Munir Haddad, gave a detailed account of what he saw, painting a picture of a man defiant to the end.

Official video released within hours of the execution - without audio - showed what appeared to be a subdued, compliant Saddam Hussein on the gallows being readied for execution. It did not show the hanging itself.

Yet a second video, shot on a mobile phone by an onlooker below the scaffold - revealed an angry scene in which witnesses hurled insults at the former leader and he in turned mocked them. It also showed the moment of death.

Koran present

The hanging took place at around 0600 local time (0300GMT) on 30 December 2006, before the sun had risen.

A small group of Iraqis had gathered to witness the event at a compound known by the Americans as Camp Justice in the Baghdad suburb of Khadimiya - a facility where under Saddam's regime many dissidents were executed.

Saddam Hussein was brought into the concrete-lined execution chamber, surrounded by men in black ski masks.

I destroyed the invaders and the Persians and I destroyed the enemies of Iraq... and I turned Iraq from poverty into wealth
Saddam Hussein

Dressed in a white shirt and dark suit and overcoat, he was handcuffed with his hands in front of him and carried a copy of the Koran in his hands, which he asked to be given to a friend.

A judge then read out the death sentence.

Judge Haddad described what happened next:

"One of the guards present asked Saddam Hussein whether he was afraid of dying.

Saddam's reply was that 'I spent my whole life fighting the infidels and the intruders', and another guard asked him: 'Why did you destroy Iraq and destroy us? You starved us and you allowed the Americans to occupy us.'

His reply was, 'I destroyed the invaders and the Persians and I destroyed the enemies of Iraq... and I turned Iraq from poverty into wealth.'

Hands and feet bound

He said: 'This is my end... this is the end of my life. But I started my life as a fighter and as a political militant - so death does not frighten me.'"

Saddam Hussein's handcuffs were removed and his hands bound behind his back and his feet shackled. Then he was taken upstairs to the top of the gallows platform.

"He was reciting, as it was his custom, 'God is Great!' and also some political slogans like: 'Down with the Americans!' and 'Down with the Invaders!'," Judge Haddad said.

Saddam Hussein on gallows
In a last act of defiance, Saddam Hussein refused to wear a hood

"He said: 'We're going to Heaven and our enemies will rot in Hell!'

And he also called for forgiveness and love amongst Iraqis, but also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians."

The official video showed a now silent, seemingly compliant, Saddam Hussein on the gallows platform, flanked by his masked guards, who were all wearing civilian dress.

Briefly the crude-looking trapdoor, ringed by a low red metal fence, came into view. The thick rope of the noose looped down from a fixture in the ceiling.

One of the men gestured to the gallows - Saddam Hussein glanced at it, then at the man, apparently to ask him a question.

The masked man moved a hand along the former leader's neck and chest, seemingly explaining that a scarf would be placed around his neck before the noose is applied - but Saddam Hussein appeared to be scarcely listening.

Hood removed

A dark piece of cloth was produced and wrapped around the former president's neck. Then with one of the executioners holding the scarf in place from behind, Saddam Hussein shuffled onto the gallows platform, guided by his masked guards.

He was killed instantly and I witnessed the impact of the rope and it was a horrible sight
Judge Munir Haddad
He stood still and erect on the trapdoor, facing straight ahead, as the noose was lowered over his neck and tightened.

It was at this point that the official video ended.

The second video was shot from below the gallows and started with Saddam Hussein being led out onto the gallows trapdoor.

The darkened scene was frequently lit up by flashes from people taking photographs.


As he shuffled forward, the crowd of witnesses standing below could be heard talking in conversational tones, but as the noose was placed around his neck the crowd became more agitated, with some shouting out insults.

In his account Judge Haddad mentions this, saying: "Some of the guards started to taunt him - by shouting Islamic words."

An unseen person shouted "go to hell", others chanted the name of Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr and of Mohammed Bakr Sadr, his uncle who was murdered by Saddam Hussein's agents.

In response Saddam Hussein was sarcastic asking "do you consider this bravery?"

A Muslim cleric in attendance asked Saddam Hussein to say a prayer, which he did, but according to Judge Haddad "with sarcasm".

In a clear voice Saddam Hussein began intoning the Shahada, the Islamic creed, saying "there is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. There is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad" - at which point he was cut off as the trapdoor opened with a loud crash and he fell.

On the mobile phone video, noise broke out and a voice shouted out "the tyrant has fallen, damn him!" as the camera swung around wildly for a few seconds before settling on a close up image of Saddam Hussein's head - still swinging on the noose, his lifeless face upturned, eyes open.

Saddam Hussein's neck appeared to have been broken in the fall and Judge Haddad said that he died instantly.

"He was killed instantly and I witnessed the impact of the rope and it was a horrible sight," he said.

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