BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's top court on Wednesday jailed former deputy premier Tareq Aziz for 15 years and awarded death sentence to two half-brothers of executed dictator Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. The High Tribunal also jailed Saddam's cousin "Chemical Ali" Hassan al-Majid for 15 years - on top of three death sentences already passed against him. Aziz and Majid were among eight people on trial over the 1992 murders of 42 Baghdad traders accused of racketeering while the country was under punishing UN sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The two key regime figures had risked the death penalty, which was handed down to former interior minister Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan and security service chief Sabawi Ibrahim - both born to Saddam's mother but of a different father. Judge Rauf Rashid Abelrahman said the pair were guilty of "premeditated murder" and "crimes against humanity." The ex-president's private secretary Abed Hamud was given life in jail. It was the first conviction against Aziz, 73, who was Saddam's spokesman and apologist to the outside world for two decades. He turned himself in after the regime was overthrown by US-led invading forces in March 2003. The only Christian in Saddam's inner circle, silver-haired Aziz wore his trademark square-framed glasses and headphones. He rose in the dock like each defendant to hear his fate, a smile fixed across his face. Aziz twitched constantly beneath his right eye but made no comment as judge Rauf Rashid Abdelrahman read out sentence. Aziz's Amman-based lawyer Badea Aref said he had expected his client to be cleared as he was not in Iraq at the time of the killings, and described the sentence as "extremely harsh". "The decision was politically motivated," he told AFP, adding that he would file an appeal within the 30-day limit. "I will go ahead and appeal because it's my duty to protect my client." Senior Baath party ruling council member Mezbane Khedhr Hadi was imprisoned for 15 years and a former finance minister to six years behind bars but an ex-governor of the central bank was acquitted. "Long-live Iraq, and down with the occupier," Hadi yelled as his sentence was pronounced. "I am proud to join my brother, the martyr Saddam Hussein." Wednesday's decision followed a verdict delivered by the Baghdad court on March 2 that condemned Majid, a close cousin of Saddam, to his third death sentence over the murder of Shias 10 years ago. However, the court acquitted Aziz on the same charges of crimes against humanity. Majid was first sentenced to death in June 2007 for genocide after ordering the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds during the 1988 Anfal campaign, when Iraqi forces strafed villages with poison gas, the source of his grim nickname. He was also given a second death penalty for war crimes and crimes against humanity over a bloody crackdown on Shiites during their ill-fated uprising after the 1991 Gulf War. Majid and Aziz are also accused of displacing and killing about 2,000 clansmen of Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani. They are also, along with the former interior minister and Saddam's private secretary, among 16 former officials also on trial for a brutal 1980s campaign against Shia Kurds. They are accused of using members of the Fayli Kurdish community as guinea pigs for chemicals weapons testing and as human shields during Iraq's war with neighbouring Iran from 1980 to 1988. Named foreign minister in 1983 and then deputy prime minister in 1991, Aziz was believed to have wielded little real power of decision-making, but has said he was proud to have been a member of the now disbanded Baath party. The fluent English speaker became one of the regime's best-known figures abroad as his master's voice.