An Iraqi court has upheld the death sentence against Saddam Hussein's former deputy for his role in the killing of 148 Shiites in 1982, a judge said Thursday.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Saddam's vice president when the regime was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, will be hanged, the method of execution in Iraq, the judge Mounir Haddad said at a news conference. The decision was final.

The appeals court decision was relayed to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which will set the date for the execution, he added. Haddad, a member of the court's nine-judge panel, said the decision to uphold the death sentence was unanimous.

Ramadan was convicted in November along with Saddam and six others in the killings of Shiites in Dujail following an assassination attempt against the former Iraqi leader in 1982 in the Shiite town north of Baghdad. Three other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in jail in the case, while one was acquitted.

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Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison but an appeals court ruled that was too lenient and asked that the lower court reconsider. The court sentenced him to death last month.

He maintained his innocence, saying his duties were limited to economic affairs, not security issues.

Saddam was hanged Dec. 30 and two of his co-defendants in the Dujail case — his half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court — were executed in January.

The decision to impose the maximum sentence against Ramadan ignored appeals from international human rights groups. Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice said the evidence was insufficient for such a punishment.

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