Iraq appeals court upholds Saddam death sentence

A panel of Iraqi judges has upheld the death sentence passed against Saddam Hussein, a spokesman for the court said, in a decision that could see the ousted dictator hanged within 30 days.

"The appeals court has ratified the sentence of the execution of Saddam," Judge Raed Jouhi told AFP on Tuesday.

Under Iraqi law a death sentence, once confirmed at appeal, should be carried out within a month. Jouhi would not confirm this would be the case, however, saying that this was a matter for "the executive".

In theory, Iraq's head of state President Jalal Talabani must ratify all capital sentences, but he has previously said he would leave such a job to his vice presidents because of his personal opposition to the death penalty.

Saddam was sentenced to death in November for his role in the execution of 148 Shiites as part of a revenge campaign launched after an assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail in 1982.

Members of the country's Shiite majority braved a strict curfew to celebrate the judgement with rowdy street parties, but some members of the once dominant Sunni community held protests and demanded Saddam's release.

It was not immediately clear whether the six other defendants convicted with Saddam at the Dujail trial had also failed in their appeal.

Two of those convicted, Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and former revolutionary court judge Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, also face the death penalty.

Saddam is also currently being tried in a second case for allegedly ordering the slaughter of 182,000 Kurdish civilians during the 1988 Anfal campaign, but Iraqi authorities have previously said they would execute Saddam regardless of that case.

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