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Saddam Hussein Trial Fast Facts


Here is some background information about the trials and execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.


Hussein was charged with premeditated murder, imprisonment and the deprivation of physical movement, forced deportation and torture.

Seven other defendants stood trial with Hussein: Barzan Hassan, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Awad al-Bandar, Abdullah Ruwaid, Ali Dayem Ali, Mohammed Azzawi Ali and Mizher Ruwaid.

The Dujail case was tried first because experts believed it was the most straightforward and easy to prove case.


July 8, 1982 – Residents of the Shiite Muslim town of Dujail, Iraq, fire on Hussein’s motorcade. In retaliation, about 150 residents are executed.

March 19, 2003 – The second Gulf War begins, code named Operation Iraqi Freedom.

December 14, 2003 – The US Department of Defense announces Hussein has been captured in a cellar, or “spider hole,” at a farmhouse in Tikrit on Saturday, December 13, 2003.

June 30, 2004 – The Coalition turns over legal control of Hussein and 11 other former top Iraqi officials to the interim Iraqi government, but they remain in the physical custody of the US for security reasons.

July 1, 2004 – Hussein makes his first appearance in court at his arraignment and is charged with a variety of crimes, including the invasion of Kuwait and the gassing of the Kurds. He pleads not guilty.

November 2004 – Hussein’s family fires his chief lawyer Mohammed al-Rashdan, accusing him of using the trial to seek personal fame. Rashdan is replaced by Ziad al-Khasawneh.

July 7, 2005 – Hussein’s chief lawyer Khasawneh resigns because he says the American defense team is trying to take over the case.

July 17, 2005 – The Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) files the first criminal charges against Hussein for the 1982 massacre of 148 people in Dujail. Other charges will be heard at separate trials.

August 23, 2005 – Hussein confirms that he has fired all his previous lawyers and is now solely represented by Khalil Dulaimi.

September 6, 2005 – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says Hussein has confessed via videotape, audiotape, and signed confessions, to giving the order to gas thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s.

September 8, 2005 – Chief attorney, Dulaimi, denies that Hussein has confessed to ordering executions and waging a campaign against Kurds in which thousands of people are said to have been killed.

October 19, 2005 – Hussein’s trial begins in Baghdad. He and seven other co-defendants appear before Chief Judge Rizgar Amin and plead not guilty to the torture and murder of Iraqi citizens in Dujail in 1982.

October 20, 2005 – The lawyer for Bandar, Saadoun al-Janabi, is kidnapped and murdered one day after he appears in court for the opening of the trial.

November 8, 2005 – Adel al-Zubeidi, a lawyer for one of Saddam’s co-defendants, Ramadan, is killed and another lawyer wounded during a drive-by shooting.

December 27, 2005 – Three more lawyers join the defense team: Saleh al-Armoti, Ibrahim al-Mulla and Tayseer al-Mudather.

January 15, 2006 – Chief Judge Amin resigns after complaints that he is too lax with the defendants in the trial.

January 23, 2006 – Iraqi officials name Chief Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman to replace Amin.

January 29, 2006 – Judge Abdel-Rahman warns defendants that he won’t tolerate political speeches in the courtroom. Hassan, Hussein’s half-brother, tests the judge by calling the court the “daughter of a whore.” Hassan is then forcibly removed from the courtroom. In response, several members of the defense team leave the courtroom in protest.

February 2, 2006 – Hussein, his seven co-defendants and their defense team boycott the proceedings and plan to stay away from the trial until Judge Abdel-Rahman is removed from the court.

April 4, 2006 – Hussein and six co-defendants are charged by the Iraqi High Criminal Court with genocide relating to the Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s. This will be a separate trial from the current one relating to the 1982 Dujail massacre.

May 15, 2006 – Judge Abdel-Rahman formally charges Hussein and seven other defendants with crimes against humanity. Hussein refuses to enter a plea.

June 21, 2006 – Defense attorney Khamis al-Ubaidi is kidnapped from his home by men dressed in Iraqi police uniforms, and murdered. Ubaidi had been defending Hussein and his half-brother, Hassan. In response, all seven defendants in the trial said they will go on a hunger strike until their attorneys are put under international protection.

July 27, 2006 – Court adjourns to deliberate a verdict in the Dujail trial.

August 21, 2006 – A new trial against Hussein begins. He and six co-defendants are being tried on genocide charges for their role in the 1980s campaign, Operation Anfal, in which 100,000 Kurds were killed. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

September 19, 2006 – Chief Judge Abdullah al-Amiri is removed from the case after telling Hussein that he wasn’t a dictator.

September 20, 2006 – New Chief Judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa replaces Amiri.

November 5, 2006 – Hussein is sentenced to death by hanging for the 1982 Dujail massacre. Co-defendants Hassan and Bandar receive death sentences. Former Vice President Ramadan is sentenced to life in prison. Abdullah Ruwaid, Dayem Ali and Mizher Ruwaid receive 15-year sentences. Azzawi Ali is acquitted for lack of evidence.

December 26, 2006 – An appellate chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal upholds Hussein’s death sentence. Judge Aref Shaheen reads the decision of the court and says it is the final word in the case. Therefore, Hussein’s execution must take place before January 27, 2007, under Iraqi law.

December 30, 2006 – Hussein is hanged a few minutes after 6:00 a.m. Baghdad time.

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