The chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Justice Commission has criticised the verdict of death by hanging imposed on Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.

Two days ago, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for ordering the killing of 148 people following an assassination attempt in Dujail in 1982.

Today, Bishop Raymond Field, an auxiliary bishop of Dublin, said the death sentences imposed on the former Iraqi dictator and some of his colleagues are contrary to the common good.

He said it was clear from public response to the Tribunal's verdict that its decision has further polarised Shia and Sunni Iraqis.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said he believes the death sentence on Saddam Hussein will be carried out before the end of this year.

Saddam returns to court for Anfal hearings

The former Iraqi leader appeared in court again in Baghdad today on charges of genocide in connection with the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988.

Saddam Hussein and six co-defendants face charges of genocide for their roles in the Anfal military campaign in which it is alleged over 180,000 people died.

Prosecutors have said the Anfal campaign was a genocidal massacre of Kurdish civilians; Saddam Hussein has insisted it was a legitimate counter-insurgency operation against separatist militants.

Jobs may return to ex-Baath members 

A senior Iraqi official has said plans have been drawn up to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to government jobs.

The official said the proposals could allow for the reinstatement of more than a million former party activists who were sacked immediately after the US-led invasion in 2003.

The Iraqi Prime Minister's representative at talks with the Arab League in Cairo said Iraqi politicians could not solve the country's difficulties without reconciliation.