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Saddam Hussein

Age: 69

president of Iraq, 1979–2003. A despotic megalomaniac who rose from poverty to an erratic and extraordinarily bloody rule. In November, a court sentenced Saddam to death for the killing of 148 Shiites in Dujail in 1982. On Dec. 28, an Iraqi appellate court chief upheld the death sentence, and the execution was held two days later. American authorities had tried to persuade Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to postpone the execution until after Id al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, which would have allowed time to resolve legal issues surrounding the execution. Maliki refused, and the hanging proceeded. As he stood at the platform of the gallows with a noose around his neck, Shiite guards and witnesses taunted and mocked Hussein. The chaos was documented on a cell phone camera by a witness. He was executed before facing trial for the 1988 murder of about 50,000 Kurds in what is known as the Anfal campaign.

See also Saddam Hussein biography.

Died: Baghdad, Dec. 30, 2006

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