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Lawyers lodge Saddam death appeal
Saddam Hussein in court (archive)
Human rights groups and defence lawyers criticised the trial
Lawyers for Saddam Hussein have lodged an appeal against the former Iraqi president's death sentence for crimes against humanity, court officials say.

The appeal was lodged just two days before the expiry of a deadline and a month after the sentence was imposed.

A panel of nine judges will review the verdict, which has been criticised by human rights groups as flawed.

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death over the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail in 1982.

Judges also passed death sentences on Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Iraq's former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar.

Violent aftermath

Much of Iraq has seen an upsurge in sectarian violence in the weeks following the verdicts, prompting US and Iraqi leaders to consider a re-think of security policies within Iraq.

Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough
Donald Rumsfeld
Former US Defence Secretary

The country's interior ministry has said that civilian deaths in November rose by 44% compared to the previous month.

But a proposal by outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to convene an international conference to discuss the situation in Iraq has been rebuffed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani.

Mr Talabani, a Kurd, insisted that a sovereign Iraq should be allowed to find its own solutions. His comments followed the rejection of the idea on Saturday by a top Shia leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim.

On Sunday, the US military confirmed that at least eight Iraqis, including two women, a child and five suspected insurgent fighters, died in an air strike near the western town of Falluja.

Three US soldiers also died in two separate attacks on Saturday, one in the town of Taji, near Baghdad, and another two in Anbar province.

The former US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned after US elections early last month, was reported on Sunday to have urged a "major adjustment" in Iraq policy just two days before he stepped down.

In a memo leaked to the New York Times, Mr Rumsfeld offered suggestions for changing US policy in Iraq, saying: "Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."

US national security adviser Stephen Hadley told ABC TV that President George W Bush agreed with Mr Rumsfeld's assessment of the situation in Iraq, adding that the president was considering his ex-colleague's "laundry list of ideas".

Trial criticised

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi told the Reuters news agency that defence lawyers visited the court on Sunday to lodge appeals against all three sentences.

The three have an automatic right of appeal under Iraqi law.

Saddam Hussein in court

The nine appeal judges can amend any aspect of the verdict or sentence.

However, Iraqi law states that if they uphold the initial verdict, the death sentence must be carried within 30 days.

Iraq's prime minister has said the sentence, if upheld, should be carried out as soon as possible, perhaps before the conclusion of the current trial.

The chief defence lawyer complained last month that his team had been unable to file appeal papers in the period immediately following the verdict.

Iraq's government and trial prosecutors have insisted the trial was fair, despite criticism of its administration and procedures by US-based Human Rights Watch.

The group said the trial suffered from "serious administrative, procedural and substantive legal defects", and called the death penalty a "cruel and inhumane punishment".

Saddam Hussein is currently facing a second trial over the so-called Anfal campaign of 1988.

He and six co-defendants are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the killing of at least 100,000 Kurds in northern Iraq.

Timeline: Saddam Hussein Anfal trial
31 Oct 06 |  Middle East

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