Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis on Sunday to reject the sectarian violence ripping his country apart and to "not take revenge" on US invaders, his chief lawyer said after the ousted leader was sentenced to death.
Former dictator guilty of crimes against humanity
"The message from President Saddam to his people came during a meeting in Baghdad this morning, just before the so-called Iraqi court issued its verdict in his trial," Khalil al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Baghdad.
"His message to the Iraqi people was 'pardon and do not take revenge on the invading nations and their people'," al-Dulaimi said, quoting Saddam.
"The president also asked his countrymen to 'unify in the face of sectarian strife'," the lawyer added.
Saddam and two other men on Sunday were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes in the 1982 killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail. The former Iraqi leader shouted out in the court, condemning what he called the occupation of Iraq by US- and British-led coalition forces.
Al-Dulaimi said Saddam "knew that he would be sentenced to death and wanted me to pass on this message to the Iraqi people and to the whole world after the verdict was announced."
"The president said that 'Saddam Hussein won't be defeated. It's the men of Persia and those of the United States who will be'," al-Dulaimi said. "He said the people will remain strong and steadfast."
Al-Dulaimi condemned Saddam's trial as a "farce," alleging that the verdict was pre-planned, unfair and null, and said defense attorneys planned to appeal the verdict within 30 days, as Iraqi law stipulates.
"Since day one, we said the trial was politically motivated 100 percent and that it's completely illegal," he said. "The defense voice was not allowed to be heard at all."
Saddam's lawyer also claimed that the security situation in Baghdad after the verdict was "very dangerous."
"Iranian intelligence and US invaders are patrolling around. There's nobody else on the streets," al-Dulaimi said.
"The people, around 7 million Iraqis, have been kicked out of their homes, the streets are all sealed off; Baghdad looks like a ghost town," he said.