BAGHDAD - Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Saddam Hussein and three of his former top aides for crimes against humanity following a 1982 crackdown on Shi'ites in which hundreds were killed and tortured.
A smiling and relaxed Saddam, who has dismissed the US-backed court as a farce, told the chief prosecutor after he finished his closing arguments: "Well done."
Saddam faces death by hanging if found guilty.
Prosecutors also requested the death penalty for Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti, former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan and the former chief judge of Saddam's Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bander.
Saddam, Barzan, Ramadan, Bander and four local Baath party officials are charged with crimes against humanity for their roles in the killings, torture and executions that followed an attempt on the Iraqi leader's life in the village of Dujail.
"The prosecution demand that the court impose the heaviest penalties on those defendants who spread corruption on earth and where not even trees escape their oppression, so we demand the court impose the death penalty," chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi told chief Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman.
Eight months into a tumultuous trial marred by the killings of two defence lawyers, the resignation of a judge and tirades from the defendants, prosecutors presented final statements in a heavily-fortified Baghdad courtroom.
Defence lawyers will start making final remarks for each of the eight defendants on July 10. A five-judge panel will then adjourn to consider a verdict. A US official close to the court said the panel was expected to take 60 days before reaching a verdict, expected by mid-September.
But any sentence of execution for Saddam could be delayed by appeals and possibly up to a dozen other trials. The court has said it will soon try Saddam for genocide against the Kurds.
Saddam, a Sunni, has admitted he ordered Dujail trials that led to executions of members of the long-oppressed Shi'ite majority now in power but said it was his legal right because he was the head of state at a time of war with neighbouring Iran.
In a 45-minute speech, Moussawi said Saddam ordered Barzan to launch a crackdown in which "excessive force was used".
Planes bombed Dujail, killing nine people, families were detained and tortured at a Baath headquarters in Baghdad where 36 died and 399 women, children and old men were sent to a detention centre in the desert without trial, he said.
He said the 148 villagers executed at Bander's court on Saddam's orders "never attended the court room and some of them were killed during the investigation."
Prosecutors asked the court to reduce the punishment against three local Baath officials and that a fourth be let go.
Some international legal groups have said Iraq's sectarian tension makes a fair trial impossible.