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Saddam Hussein Buried; New Video Shows Last Moments


Former dictator Saddam Hussein, who was executed by hanging Saturday for crimes against his people, was buried shortly before sunrise Sunday in the town of his birth. Meanwhile, new video has surfaced of Saddam's last moments on the gallows, including a defiant exchange with his executioners. From Iraq, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

It was an anti-climatic end for a notorious dictator who sowed so much fear and adoration during his decades of rule over Iraq.

Sheikh Ali Neda, the chief of Saddam's Albu-Nassir clan, along with the governor and deputy governor of Salahuddin province, flew to Baghdad Saturday evening to claim his corpse.

They returned to the village of Ouja, near his hometown of Tikrit. His Iraqi-flag draped remains were interred in a simple grave inside a building that is part of a religious compound. A large framed photograph of Saddam sat on a chair nearby.

The internment took place before dawn in keeping with Muslim tradition that the dead be buried within 24 hours. During the day, thousands of mourners came to pay their respects.

Tikrit is under a four day curfew, with no one allowed to leave or enter the city, but that did not stop Saddam loyalists from taking to the street, waving his picture and shooting into the air as they called for revenge.

Yasin Majid al-Hashimi, media advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told Iraqiyah television Sunday that the government decided to release Saddam's body to his clan for humanitarian reasons, but also to stop the spread of false rumors that he was not really dead.

Al-Hashimi says the former leader's body was washed and prayed over like any other deceased Muslim. He added that during 35 years, Saddam never showed any respect for Muslim tradition or holy sites, and when he killed people he did not show the same respect for their bodies that his received.

An Iraqi court sentenced the 69-year-old former president to hang for ordering the killing of 148 Shi'ites from the village of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt against him there in 1982.

Meanwhile, Iraqi television channels and some Arab websites are showing new video taken in the final moments of the execution apparently with a camera phone.

In Saddam's last moments at the gallows he exchanged angry and sarcastic words with his apparently Shiite executioners. The executioners begin shouting prayers to God and the Prophet Mohammed, then one person calls the name "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada" - a reference to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Saddam then asks them, "Is this manhood?" To which a voice tells him to go "to Hell" and he replies, "You go to Hell!"

Saddam, with the noose around his neck, begins to recite the Muslim prayer known as the "Shahada," in which he says "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Messenger." It is during his second recitation of this verse that the trap door opens and the former strongman goes to his death.

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