Iraq's prime minister says he expects Saddam Hussein will be executed before the end of the year.

Nouri Maliki told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesdaythat he believes Iraqi officials will carry out Saddam's sentence of death by hanging within several weeks.

Maliki spoke the same day Saddam made a court appearancein a second trial.

"I expect it to happen before the end of the year," said Maliki.

Saddam received the death sentence on Sunday after being convicted of crimes against humanity. He was found guilty in connection with the death of 148 people in the Shia town of Dujail in 1982.

Under Iraqi law, the decision must be appealed within 30 days. If the nine-judge panel upholds the death sentece, it must be carried out within 30 days.

"We're waiting for the decision of the Appeal Court and if the Appeal Court confirms this sentence, it will be the government's responsibility," said Maliki.

The prime minister said the Iraqi government wouldn't be influenced by international pressure.

"We would like the whole world to respect the judicial will of Iraq," he told the BBC.

"This is an Iraqi issue, it's an Iraqi matter."

International human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the trial, calling it flawed and unfair.

The groups alleged political interference undermined the court's independence and complained that Saddam was denied access to legal counsel during the first year after his arrest.

Saddam still on trial

Saddam appeared in court for hisother trial, on charges for his alleged role in a military campaign that killed more than 180,000 ethnic Kurds during the 1980s. Those charges include genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The trial adjourned to Nov. 27 to give time for the defence to assemble its list of witnesses.

But court spokesman Raed Juhi said the prosecution still had more witnesses to call. This trial is hearing prosecution evidence and could last into 2007.

If convicted, Saddam and his co-defendants could be condemned to death.

It's not clear whether Iraqi officials will have to wait until the second trial is completed before carrying out the sentence of the first trial.

With files from the Associated Press