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US Ambassador to Iraq: Saddam Guilty Verdict an 'Important Milestone'

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad says Saddam Hussein's conviction by an Iraqi court for crimes against humanity is an "important milestone" for the country.

Khalilzad says in a statement issued Sunday that "closing the book" on Saddam gives Iraq an opportunity to unite and build a better future. He acknowledged that Iraq may face difficult times in the coming weeks, in a reference to fears the verdict will spark a sectarian backlash.

The U.S. ambassador praised the Iraqi judges and attorneys who worked on the trial for showing courage in the face of intimidation. He says the trial demonstrates Iraq's determination to hold Saddam and his co-defendants accountable for their crimes.

Three defense lawyers for Saddam were murdered during the trial, prompting the defense team to complain that Iraq's government had not provided it with enough security.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.