Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday, Iraqi state-run television reported.
"Criminal Saddam was hanged to death," Iraqiya television said in an announcement. The station played patriotic music and showed images of national monuments and other landmarks.
It was a grim end for the 69-year-old leader who had vexed three U.S. presidents. Despite his ouster, Washington, its allies and the new Iraqi leaders remain mired in a fight to quell a stubborn insurgency by Saddam loyalists and a vicious sectarian conflict.
A U.S. judge on Friday refused to stop Saddam's execution, rejecting a last-minute court challenge.
The execution came 56 days after a court convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from a town where assassins tried to kill the dictator in 1982. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam's appeal Monday and ordered him executed within 30 days.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)