BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted “God is great!”
Saddam and his seven co-defendants were on trial for a wave of revenge killings carried out in the city of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on the former dictator. Al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party, then an underground opposition, has claimed responsibility for organizing the attempt on Saddam’s life.
Saddam’s chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi condemned the trial as a “farce,” claiming the verdict was planned. He said defense attorneys would appeal within 30 days.
Death sentences automatically go to a nine-judge appeals panel, which has unlimited time to review the case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Rev. Ted Haggard was dismissed Saturday as leader of the megachurch he founded after a board determined the influential evangelist had committed “sexually immoral conduct,” the church said.
Haggard had resigned two days earlier as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, where he held sway in Washington and condemned homosexuality, after a Denver man named Mike Jones claimed to have had drug-fueled trysts with him. He also had placed himself on administrative leave from the New Life Church, but its Overseer Board took the stronger action Saturday.
“Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct,” the independent board said in a statement.
Haggard, 50, on Friday acknowledged paying Jones for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.
Jones, who said he is gay, said he was upset when he discovered who Haggard was and found out that the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage-a key issue in Colorado, with a pair of issues on Tuesday’s ballot.
Jones has denied selling drugs but said Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience. Jones agreed to take a lie-detector test Friday; the administrator of the test said the answers about his sex allegations “indicated deception.”
STATE & LOCAL
RICHMOND – Tremors from what was believed to be a minor earthquake Thursday in Southwest Virginia were more likely the result of a collapse at an abandoned mine, officials with the U.S. Geological Survey said Friday.
The event registered magnitude 4.3 and took place about eight miles north-northwest of Raven and about 10 miles northwest of Richlands in Tazewell County.
Even a minor earthquake of that magnitude would typically trigger “a thousand calls” and normally would be felt as far away as Washington, said geophysicist John Bellini of the agency’s National Earthquake Information Center, in Colorado.
He said when only a couple of calls trickled in, seismologists took a closer look. They concluded it was far more likely to have been a mining event, which can sometimes be confused with an earthquake.
The state had no reports of the collapse of a working mine or any reports of unusual mining activity in the area, however.