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(CNN) -- The death sentences handed down Sunday against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and two of his co-defendants triggers an automatic appeal to the Iraqi Criminal Tribunal.
Hussein was sentenced to hang for the 1982 crackdown in the Shiite town of Dujail. His half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Bandar also were sentenced to death.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former vice president of Iraq, was sentenced to life in prison.
Defense attorneys have 30 days to file motions to the nine-judge appellate panel. (Watch what Hussein can expect from the court -- 3:13)
There is no time limit for the appeals court to make its decision, but a court official told The Associated Press that the process would likely take three or four weeks after formal paperwork is submitted.
Michael Scharf, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and the co-author of "Saddam on Trial," told CNN that it could take even longer because of the complicated issues involved.
"Ultimately this case was not a factual case. The facts were not in dispute because of all the documents that came into evidence. Even Saddam Hussein admitted the basic facts," Scharf said.
"What was in dispute was a legal question, that is, can someone who is a president of a country faced with terrorism and insurgency and assassination attempt, do the things that Saddam Hussein did to the people of Dujail."
Scharf said it was unlikely that the court would overturn the sentences.
If the appeals court upholds Hussein's conviction and sentence he will be hanged within 30 days of the decision. (Full story)
Hussein still faces genocide charges in the 1988 Anfal campaign against Iraq's Kurdish region.
That case will go forward, prosecutors told CNN.
Saddam Hussein attends the court session Sunday in Baghdad where he was sentenced to death.