The massacre of Shiites villagers from Dujail, for which deposed president Saddam Hussein was hanged Saturday, followed an attack on his convoy there in 1982.
In the aftermath, 148 inhabitants of the town north of Baghdad died in reprisals by Saddam's security services, who also destroyed homes and crops and sentenced survivors to four years of internal exile.
Witnesses have tearfully spoken of the events of the fateful day when Saddam drove through the village.
"It was the seventh day of Ramadan (the Islamic holy month of fasting), on July 8, 1982," said Abdul Hussein al-Dujaili, who says he witnessed the events and who now heads an association dedicated to remembering the victims.
"It was a very hot day when Saddam Hussein pulled into the village in a long convoy of vehicles."
He had just visited a mosque and was heading towards the centre of the village when men opened fire on the convoy from orchards bordering the road," he said.
"His guards returned fire, shooting wildly in all directions and killing two children."
Saddam then met with advisors at the local Baath party headquarters before claiming: "We know who is responsible for this attack and we have already arrested them."
The next day, special forces units from Saddam's elite Republican Guard returned and began to arrest villagers in Dujail. A reign of terror held Dujail in its grip for several months.
More than 600 people from 80 families were arrested and taken to a secret police prison in Baghdad, 70 kilometres (42 miles) to the south.
Of those detained, 148 were never heard from again. Saddam was captured nine months after his regime was overthrown by a US-led invasion force in March 2003.