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6 dictators who got what they DESERVED

Last updated on: December 21, 2011 11:43 IST

6 dictators who got what they DESERVED

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2011, hopefully, will be remembered as the year that marked the beginning of the end of the world's worst dictators.

The year witnessed the end, metaphorically and otherwise, of some of the most ruthless, despotic and tyrannical men in history.

While the year started on a promising note with the ouster of Tunisia's President Ben Ali in the wake of relentless protests, it ended with the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, a man so distinguished that he was often compared to the likes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin!

Rediff.com takes a look at how some of the world's most hated men finally got what they deserved.

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Kim Jong Il, North Korea

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Emperor Nero may or may not have played the fiddle while Rome burned. But Kim Jong Il definitely lived it up with cognac and luxurious villas while nearly 35 lakh North Koreans starved due to an acute food crisis.

On Monday, the State-run television of North Korea announced that Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital.

Foreign media had speculated for years that Kim Jong Il had died and the news had been hushed up by the secretive regime. It turns out that the people of North Korea, who have spent 17 years under the suffocating rule of the diminutive leader, were not so lucky.

The 'Dear Father' and 'Dear Leader' of North Korea has appointed his 20-something son Kim Jong Un as his successor.

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Image: A picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as he reads the report of his death on the newspaper company's display board in Seoul
Photographs: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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Hosni Mubarak, Egypt

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Dictators across the world should be warned by the spectacular rise and deafening fall of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak.

He was once one of the richest men in the world with estimated assets between $40 billion and $70 billion.

A few months later, Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal were to be found inside a mesh cage inside a court in Cairo, which was trying them for conspiring to kill protesters and rampant corruption.

When he first came to power nearly 30 years ago, Mubarak used to be a popular president with a reformist agenda. But he soon succumbed to the usual symptoms of a despot -- refusing to give up power, penalising dissenters and opponents and curbing freedom of expression.

When threats, beatings and even bullets failed to quell the massive protests in Egypt, Muabarak was finally forced to step down in February.

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Image: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is seen in the courtroom for his trial in Cairo
Photographs: Reuters

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Ben Ali, Tunisia

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Former Tunisian president Ben Ali will always be remembered as the man who triggered off the 'Arab Spring', albeit absolutely unintentionally!.

His 24-year-rule, highlighted by several achievements like crippling corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering, came to an end in January this year.

Even Ben Ali's fellow legislators as well as the army were fed up of the former soldier and his family running the country in any way they pleased.

While Ben Ali initially put up a brave face in spite of nation-wide protests, he and his family were soon forced to flee the country. They are cooling their heels in exile in Saudi Arabia currently.

If he ever returns to his country, Ben Ali will have to serve 35 years in jail for various crimes!

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Image: Protestors step on a poster with a picture of Tunisia's former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast

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Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, holds the dubious distinction of being the first former head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court.

Gbagbo, who ruled Ivory Coast for nearly 11 years, has a colourful crime graph. He has strengthened his iron grip on the strife-torn nation by encouraging ethnic divisions, cruelly choking rebellions and sealing off the country's border.

He refused to step down in spite of losing the general elections in 2010, triggering off a violent civil war that raged on for months. Gbagbo allowed his army to use physical and sexual violence against protestors, encouraging them to commit murder and rapes to keep protests in check.

He was arrested in April 2011, and the news was personally hailed by US President Barack Obama.

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Image: Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo gestures in a room of Hotel Golf in Abidjan after being arrested
Photographs: Reuters

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Muammar Gaddafi, Libya

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The Libyan strongman had once vowed to hunt down protesters "inch by inch, room by room, home by home, alleyway by alleyway."

Muammar Gaddafi may have regretted his unfortunate choice of words as he spent months in different hideouts while thousands of angry Libyans hunted for their former dictator.

He spent his last few hours in a drain pipe in his hometown Sirte, before being dragged out by rebels and gunned down. His shirtless and bloodied corpse was put on display at a local morgue, for the benefit of generations of Libyans who had suffered under 42 years of his misrule.

It was a sad end for a man once known as much for his penchant for flamboyant clothes and female bodyguards as for his dalliances with international militants and terrorists.

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Image: Libyans visit the body of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi inside a storage freezer in Misrata
Photographs: Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

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Than Shwe, Myanmar

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He started off as a humble postman and ended up heading the cruel military junta in Myanmar. Than Shwe has become a permanent fixture in any and every list of the 'world's worst dictators' since he took charge in 1992.

His many accomplishments include vehemently opposing any democratic measures, imprisoning democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, ensuring that millions of Myanmar citizens continue living in abject poverty, torturing members of the minority Karen community and holding sham elections.

Amid rumours that he is suffering from cancer and severe diabetes, Than Shwe decided to step down this year and hand over power to his successor Thein Sein.

He has since been not seen or heard of much and is believed to have faded into political oblivion.


Image: A man jumps on a burning effigy of Myanmar's military ruler Than Shwe during a protest
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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