updated 6/8/2008 8:30:29 PM ET 2008-06-09T00:30:29

Eight former members of Saddam Hussein's regime have been transferred from U.S. to Iraqi control, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

Badee Izzat Aref, a lawyer for several Saddam-era officials standing trial, said the eight were transferred Friday. He said they included Iraq's former director of military intelligence, Sabir Azizi al-Douri, who was sentenced to life in prison during the Anfal trial in June 2007.

Saddam's secretary, Abed Hmoud, and another senior Baath Party official, Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafour, were also among those transferred, Aref said.

Former regime figures sentenced to death — like Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as "Chemical Ali" for gassing Kurds in the 1980s and former defense minister Hashim Sultan — were not among those transferred, deputy justice minister Busho Ibrahim told The Associated Press.

More transfers expected
Ibrahim said more defendants would be transferred to Iraqi custody in the future, but did not elaborate.

Al-Douri and al-Majid were both convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for their part in the Operation Anfal crackdown that killed nearly 200,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas.

The U.S. military, which continues to hold dozens of former Iraqi government officials, said it was currently coordinating such transfers, but would not comment on the timing or number of detainees involved.

Aref said he disagreed with the decision to transfer the eight men to Iraqi control, saying he feared they would face mistreatment by Iraqi authorities because of their ties to the late dictator.

"We are worried about their safety. The Americans are responsible for any abuse done to them (because of this decision)," Aref told AP by telephone from the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Aref and Ibrahim did not explain the timing of the transfer, and officials from the Iraqi High Tribunal were not available to comment.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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