■Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging (CNN.COM)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad on Sunday sentenced a combative Saddam Hussein and two other defendants to death by hanging for a brutal crackdown in 1982 in the Shiite town of Dujail.
Despite a curfew, Iraqis in Baghdad spilled out into the streets to celebrate the verdict. But protests were held in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
The appeal process has now been set in motion. (Watch what's next for Hussein -- 3:13 )
Within 10 days, the court will forward the cases of Hussein and three other defendants to the appellate chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal. Appeals of death penalties and life sentences are automatic.
Within 20 days after the appeals are made, the prosecution and the defense must submit their documents to the appellate chamber.
A court official told The Associated Press the appeals process was likely to take three to four weeks once the formal paperwork was submitted.
However, there is no time limit for the appellate court to rule on the appeal.
Once the court does reach a decision, if the sentences are upheld, they must be carried out in 30 days.
Iraqis, not the coalition, would carry out the executions. (Full story)
"The Saddam Hussein era is in the past now, as was the era of Hitler and Mussolini," said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, calling Hussein the worst ruler ever in Iraq.
"We want an Iraq where all Iraqis are equal before the law," he said. "The policy of discrimination and persecution is over." (Watch al-Maliki call Hussein 'worst ruler' in Iraq's history -- 3:06)
Barhim Salih, the Kurdish deputy prime minister of Iraq, called this a "historic day."
Many Iraqis wanted "swift" and "summary" justice, Salih told CNN, but Iraq "abided by the legality of the process."
The Iraqi Islamic Party -- the country's most powerful Sunni political group -- indicated that while justice was served, the present government urgently needs to grapple with widespread injustices now.
Sunnis were predominant in Hussein's government and have lost much of their clout since he was toppled. They have been dominant in the insurgency, and critical of the Shiite-led government for not dealing strongly with Shiite death squads.
The group said Iraqis have the right to ask whether crimes being committed today are not unlike the crimes under the Saddam Hussein regime. The group mentioned sectarian killings and displacement and the imprisoning of innocents.
White House spokesman Tony Snow praised the Dujail trial verdict, including Hussein's sentence of death by hanging for crimes against humanity.
"It demonstrates that you've got an independent Iraqi judiciary and that they were applying their own laws," Snow said.
World reaction to the verdict was mixed.(Full story)
Along with Hussein, his half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan, and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar also were sentenced to death.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former vice president of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.
Mohammed Azzawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was acquitted because of insufficient evidence against him, the court said.
The three others -- Abdullah Kadhem Ruwaid, Ali Dayem Ali, and Misher Abdullah Ruwaid -- were sentenced to 15 years each.
The Dujail case stemmed from a crackdown against townspeople after a 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein in the town. The crackdown involved the ordered executions of 148 males. According to court documents, the military, political and security apparatus in Iraq and Dujail killed, arrested, detained and tortured men, women and children in the town. Homes were demolished and orchards were razed.
Sunday's 50-minute court session was dramatic. Hussein entered with a Quran in hand, as he had in the past. He began shouting "Allahu Akhbar" -- God is great -- as the verdict and sentencing was read. (Watch Hussein shout protests during sentencing -- 4:05 )
He also argued with the chief judge and shouted, "Damn you and your court." As the judge ordered him taken away, Hussein said to one of the guards, "Don't push me, boy."
During the trial proceedings a few months ago, Hussein said that if he received a death sentence, he would prefer to be executed by a firing squad.
However, at a press conference later, chief prosecutor Jaafar Moussaoui said the law stipulates that a firing squad is normally the sentence issued by military courts. This court deals with crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, and calls for death by hanging, he said.
Curfew in Sunni areas
Before Sunday's verdicts were announced, a curfew was imposed in Baghdad and two provinces -- Diyala and Salaheddin -- with large Sunni populations. Predominantly Shiite and Kurdish provinces were not under curfew.
About 2,000 protesters in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Sunday defied the curfew and demonstrated in support of the former leader.
The numbers of demonstrators grew after the sentence was announced. A complete movement ban -- both people and vehicles -- was imposed on Sunday in the provinces of Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin, where Tikrit is located.
The Baghdad International Airport also shut down until further notice.
This verdicts come nearly three years after U.S.-led forces plucked Hussein out of hiding and just a few days before U.S. midterm elections, with the Iraqi war at center stage.
Hussein is also in the middle of another trial involving the 1988 Anfal campaign, the government offensive in the country's Kurdish region. Hussein is charged in that case with genocide.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Aneesh Raman contributed to this report.