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Saddam Death Sentence Upheld by Iraq Appeals Court


Iraq's highest appeals court has upheld the death sentence for Saddam Hussein ordering him to be put to death in the next 30 days. Meanwhile, Iraqi security officials say car bombings and roadside explosions across Baghdad today killed at least 37 people and wounded many more. From northern Iraq, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The court rejected Saddam's appeal to overturn the death penalty and has cleared the way for him to be hanged for ordering the executions of 148 Shi'ite men in the town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt against him there in 1982.

Chief Appellate Judge Munir Haddad told reporters in Baghdad that the sentence must be carried out within the next 30 days, but it is possible that it could be carried out before the January 27 deadline.

Saddam's lawyers have said the trial against the former dictator was unfair, accusing the Shi'ite-led government of interfering by removing some of the judges.

Saddam was convicted and sentenced to hang last month for the 1982 executions. He is currently standing trial for his role in the Anfal campaign of the late 1980s in which some 180,000 Kurds were killed.

The announcement raised concerns that Sunni extremists and Saddam loyalists might launch attacks to protest the verdict. A curfew could be imposed on the capital in the coming days.

In a separate development, Medical officials say a car bomb killed at least 15 people near a mosque in a Sunni neighborhood of the capital.

Earlier Tuesday, three near simultaneous car bombs exploded in western Baghdad, killing at least 16.

Ministry of Interior official, Jihad al-Jabarri, told Iraqi television that two of the cars were parked on opposite sides of a busy intersection and the third car was parked near them.

Jabarri says terrorists detonated the first two vehicles and then blew up the third one three minutes later, after a crowd of people had rushed to the scene of the first attack. He says all three cars were detonated by remote control.

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