The U.S. side on Friday evening denied reports that it had handed Saddam Hussein over to the Iraqi authorites for execution, saying Saddam was still in U.S.custody.
U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey confirmed that Saddam Hussein is still in U.S. custody and "there has been no change in his status," according reports reaching here from Washington.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official in Baghdad also denied reports that the U.S. military had handed the former president over to Iraqi authorites for execution. "Saddam is still in U.S. custody," he told Reuters.
Earlier, pan-Arabic television al-Jazeera reported that Saddam Hussein has been transferred from U.S. custody to the Iraqi authorities ahead of execution.
The channel quoted Saddam's chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi as saying that "the Americans have notified us that they have handed over the president to the Iraqi authorities."
"They told us the president is no longer under the authority of the American forces and they requested us not to go to Baghdad," he added.
The hand-over of Saddam to the Iraqi authorities means that the execution is imminent.
An Iraqi judge said that Saddam would be executed by Saturday at the latest.
Munir Haddad, a judge of the appeals court, said that Saddam would be executed "today or tomorrow," adding "all the measures have been done and there is no reason for delays."
Sami al-Askari, a member of Iraq's main Shiite parliamentary bloc and a political consultant to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a foreign media that Iraqi officials have completed all paperwork necessary to execute Saddam Hussein.
"All documents relating to the implementation of the execution are compiled and ready" and Saddam may be hanged as early as Saturday, but may wait until later in the week, al-Askari said.