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Iraq Shi'ites Celebrate Saddam Death Sentence


Hundreds of Iraqi Shi'ites have gathered on the streets of Baghdad's Sadr City district to celebrate the death sentence handed down to deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Residents of the Shi'ite suburb danced, waved flags and set fire to pictures of Saddam. The district is controlled by the Shi'ite Mahdi militia, which largely ignored a strict curfew imposed on the rest of the Iraqi capital.

Other parts of the Iraqi capital were largely quiet as the curfew remains in place. It is aimed at preventing outbreaks of sectarian fighting over the Saddam verdict.

One of Saddam's chief lawyers condemned the trial as illegal, and says the court was a political body aimed at serving American interests.

The lawyer, Bushra al-Khalil, was speaking in Amman, Jordan, where the defense team is based.

While most of Baghdad was calm today, Iraqi officials say gunmen fought with police in the northern district of Azamiyah, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims.

Several Iraqi Sunni politicians have criticized the death sentence on Saddam, a Sunni, and warned it could spark greater bloodshed between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

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