BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad Sunday said the guilty verdict and death sentence handed down to Saddam Hussein was an important benchmark in rebuilding Iraq.
An Iraqi tribunal court Sunday sentenced the former dictator to death by hanging for ordering the executions of 148 people in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against him.
"A former dictator feared by millions, who killed his own citizens ... has been brought to trial in his own country," Khalilzad said in a statement. "Although the Iraqis may face difficult days in the coming weeks, closing the book on Saddam and his regime is an opportunity to unite and build a better future."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the verdict represented a decision on a "whole dark era" unparalleled in the country's history.
Sajjad Abdul Hussein Ali, a Shiite living in Kirkuk who had three brothers executed by Hussein, said the verdict was a "triumph" for families terrorized by the former dictator.