Timeline: Saddam's Violent Road to Execution

Saddam and his family outside of the clay hut in which he was born. Credit: Corbis. i i

Saddam Hussein visits the clay home in which he was born near Tikrit. His daughter Raghad (front row, wearing yellow sweater) was directing his team of defense lawyers. This undated photo was taken by an official regime photographer. Corbis hide caption

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Saddam and his family outside of the clay hut in which he was born. Credit: Corbis.

Saddam Hussein visits the clay home in which he was born near Tikrit. His daughter Raghad (front row, wearing yellow sweater) was directing his team of defense lawyers. This undated photo was taken by an official regime photographer.

Corbis
Saddam and Iraq's leader in 1978, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr. Credit: Corbis i i

Saddam shares a moment in 1978 with Iraq's leader, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr. Saddam would take over the reins of power from al-Bakr, his cousin, a year later. Corbis hide caption

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Saddam and Iraq's leader in 1978, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr. Credit: Corbis

Saddam shares a moment in 1978 with Iraq's leader, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr. Saddam would take over the reins of power from al-Bakr, his cousin, a year later.

Corbis
Saddam Hussein tours a trench in the Iraq-Iran war in 1987. Credit: Corbis. i i

Saddam Hussein tours a trench on the Saaif Saab front of the Iraq-Iran war in July 1987. Corbis hide caption

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Saddam Hussein tours a trench in the Iraq-Iran war in 1987. Credit: Corbis.

Saddam Hussein tours a trench on the Saaif Saab front of the Iraq-Iran war in July 1987.

Corbis
A Saddam propaganda portrait looks down on the people of Tikrit in 1995. Credit: Corbis. i i

A Saddam propaganda portrait looks down on the people of Tikrit in 1995. Through wars and sanctions, the people of Saddam's hometown remained his most loyal followers. Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Corbis
A Saddam propaganda portrait looks down on the people of Tikrit in 1995. Credit: Corbis.

A Saddam propaganda portrait looks down on the people of Tikrit in 1995. Through wars and sanctions, the people of Saddam's hometown remained his most loyal followers.

Corbis
A photo of Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003.  Credit: Corbis. i i

A photo of Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003. U.S. forces found Saddam in an underground hideout near his hometown of Tikrit. Corbis hide caption

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A photo of Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003.  Credit: Corbis.

A photo of Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003. U.S. forces found Saddam in an underground hideout near his hometown of Tikrit.

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Saddam appears on TV in a July 2004 court hearing. Credit: Corbis. i i

Iraqi men in a Baghdad coffee shop watch Saddam Hussein's July 2004 court appearance. Saddam refused to accept the court's authority and accused U.S. President George W. Bush of being the "real criminal." Corbis hide caption

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Saddam appears on TV in a July 2004 court hearing. Credit: Corbis.

Iraqi men in a Baghdad coffee shop watch Saddam Hussein's July 2004 court appearance. Saddam refused to accept the court's authority and accused U.S. President George W. Bush of being the "real criminal."

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Saddam interviewed by a judge in August 2005. Credit: Corbis. i i

Saddam Hussein being questioned in August 2005 by Chief Investigative Judge Raid Juhi. During the interview Saddam confirmed that he had fired his entire defense team, except for Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi. Corbis hide caption

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Saddam interviewed by a judge in August 2005. Credit: Corbis.

Saddam Hussein being questioned in August 2005 by Chief Investigative Judge Raid Juhi. During the interview Saddam confirmed that he had fired his entire defense team, except for Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi.

Corbis

From his early days as a dangerous Baathist revolutionary to his sentence to be hanged, death has followed Saddam Hussein.

April 28, 1937: True to His Name. Saddam Hussein is born to a peasant family in a desert village near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. His name in Arabic means "one who confronts."

1957-1958: Jail Time. Joins the underground Baath Socialist Party in 1957. The following year he is arrested for killing his brother-in-law, a Communist, and spends six months in prison.

Oct. 7, 1959: Ambushing Kassem. He is a member of the Baath assassination squad that ambushes Iraq's military leader, General Abdel-Karim Kassem, riddling his car with bullets. Kassem is wounded but survives. Saddam, wounded in the leg, flees Iraq and spends the next four years in Syria and Egypt.

Feb. 8, 1963: Part of a Coup. Returns to Iraq after helping the Arab Baath Socialist Party organize a coup that overthrows and kills Kassem. After a short run in power, the Baath government, torn by factionalism, is overthrown by a group of military officers led by Abdul Rahman Arif in November 1963.

1964-1966: Ready for the Baath. Jailed for participation in the Baath Party, Saddam escapes and becomes a leading member of the party. (According to biographers, Saddam never forgot the tensions within the first Baathist government. This memory may have contributed to his ruthless style of governing.)

July 17, 1968: Iraq's No. 2. Baathists and like-minded army officers overthrow the Arif regime. Saddam's cousin, Gen. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, becomes president. As vice president, Saddam becomes Iraq's second most powerful leader, taking charge of internal security and building security apparatus that infiltrates all corners of Iraqi society.

July 16, 1979: Presidential Power Grab. Takes over as president of Iraq after pushing his cousin, President al-Bakr, to resign. Purges the Baath Party, eliminating his rivals in a power grab captured on videotape. (The chilling video shows a meeting of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council where members identified by Saddam as having suspect loyalty are removed from the hall to be shot.)

Sept. 22, 1980: War with Iran. A year after the Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran, tensions rise between Iran and Iraq. Saddam orders his troops to invade. The inconclusive eight-year war impoverishes Iraq and kills hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides. (Washington and its allies supported Saddam to help stave off victory by Iran.)

July 8, 1982: Death in Dujail. Survives assassination attempt in Dujail, a mainly Shiite Muslim town 25 miles north of Baghdad. In retaliation, Saddam's security forces attack the town, arresting about 1,500 residents. (Many faced torture, and nearly 150 Dujail residents were later executed on Saddam's orders. The events in Dujail were the subject of the criminal charges in Saddam's initial trial and resulted in his death sentence.)

March 28, 1988: Kurdish Catastrophe. Uses chemical weapons against Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq, killing an estimated 5,000 civilians. (The attack is part of the government's campaign to suppress rebellious Kurds across northern Iraq. The campaign leaves 180,000 Kurds missing and presumed dead.)

Aug. 2, 1990: Invading Kuwait. Saddam demands that Kuwait forgive the debts taken on by Iraq during the Iran war, then invades his tiny, oil-rich neighbor.

Jan. 17, 1991: Gulf War Begins. The war starts with aerial bombing of Iraq and Iraqi troops in Kuwait by U.S. and allied militaries under the name Operation Desert Storm.

Feb. 24-27, 1991: War Ends, Hussein Survives. Iraqi troops are ejected from Kuwait after a brief ground war with a U.S.-led coalition. Saddam survives the greatest threat yet to his government when coalition troops advance into Iraq but decide not to besiege Baghdad.

March 1991: Unsuccessful Uprisings. In the north, the Kurds rise up against Saddam's rule. In the south, Shiite Muslims do the same. Saddam unleashes his military on both. (Although President George H.W. Bush encouraged the revolts, the U.S. did not intervene and Saddam retained power in Baghdad.)

Feb. 20, 1996: Father-in-Law from Hell. Orders killing of two sons-in-law who had, in 1995, defected to Jordan and revealed details of Saddam's weapons programs. They had returned to Baghdad after receiving guarantees of safety, and were murdered by a mob.

March 17, 2003: U.S. Ultimatum. President Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face "the full force and might" of the American military. Iraq's leadership rejects Bush's ultimatum.

April 9, 2003: The Statue Falls. Iraq's regime collapses as U.S. forces enter central Baghdad. Residents cheer as a huge statue of Saddam is toppled.

July 22, 2003: The Death of His Sons. Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay die in a fierce gun battle with U.S. troops.

Dec. 13, 2003: Accursed in the Spider Hole. Saddam is captured by U.S. forces at 8:30 p.m. in the town of Adwar, 10 miles south of Tikrit. He is hiding in a specially prepared "spider hole."

December 2003: War Crimes Tribunal. The U.S.-appointed government, the Iraqi Governing Council, establishes the Iraqi Special Tribunal to prosecute war crimes committed during Saddam's rule. The law calls for Iraqi judges to hear cases presented by Iraqi lawyers, with international experts serving only as advisers.

June 30, 2004: A Criminal Defendant. The U.S. symbolically hands Saddam over to Iraqi authorities, but maintains physical custody of the deposed leader. The legal transfer means that Saddam is no longer a prisoner of war. He is now a criminal defendant whose treatment is governed by Iraqi law. The change in status gives him the right to legal representation.

July 17, 2005: Charges Filed. The Iraqi tribunal, still under U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council jurisdiction, announces that it has filed charges against Saddam in the Dujail case. Iraqi law requires the court to announce the start date for a trial within 45 days of the filing of charges.

Aug. 8, 2005: They're Fired. Saddam fires his 1,500-member Arab and Western legal defense team. He retains Iraqi attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi. (Saddam's mostly Arab legal team included volunteers from the United States, France, Jordan, Iraq and Libya.)

Oct. 19, 2005: Defiant One. A defiant Saddam Hussein pleads innocent to charges of murder and torture and questions the legitimacy of the court.

Dec. 22, 2005: Beaten Down. Saddam Hussein repeats accusations that he'd been beaten and tortured in U.S. custody.

Feb. 1, 2006: Bias Complaints. Saddam Hussein's trial resumes in Baghdad, but neither the main defendant nor his attorneys are present. The deposed Iraqi leader and his lawyers say the newly appointed judge is biased against Saddam.

Feb. 13, 2006: Bush Bashing. The chief judge forces Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants to attend their trial. Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim respond to their appearance in court with shouts of "Down with Bush!"

February 28, 2006: Saddam's Signature. Prosecution lawyers presented a document approving death sentences against 148 Dujail residents, with a signature they said was Saddam's — the most direct evidence yet against him.

June 21, 2006: Death to His Lawyer. Men wearing police uniforms abduct and kill Saddam's principal defense lawyer, Khamis Al-Obeidi — the third member of the defense team member to be killed.

Aug. 21, 2006: A Second Trial. The second Saddam trial begins in Baghdad. He is charged with genocide, stemming from a gas attack on a Kurdish village during the infamous Anfal campaign of the late 1980s. Saddam and six co-defendants are accused of orchestrating the killings of tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

Sept. 20, 2006: Judging the Judge. The chief judge presiding over Saddam's second trial is removed by the Iraqi cabinet after declaring in a court session that Hussein was "no dictator."

Nov. 5, 2006: Death Sentence. Saddam and two co-defendants are sentenced to death for his first trial, covering the deaths of 148 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail. He is found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder.

Dec. 26, 2006: Hanging Ordered. Iraq's highest appeals court upholds the death sentence for Saddam from his trial for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail. The chief appeals court judge says Saddam must be hanged within 30 days.

Dec. 30, 2006: Execution. Saddam is taken to the gallows and hanged, according to various reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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