The Swedish daily Aftonbladet on Wednesday quoted Giovanni Di Stefano as suggesting Sweden as one of the three countries where the toppled Iraqi president could be held pending his trial.

Di Stefano said Saddam's legal team had decided last month that it would attempt to have the ex-Iraqi leader moved to a "neutral" country like Austria or Switzerland before the trial.

In the interview, Di Stefano said there may be no trial since Saddam as Iraq's leader enjoys automatic immunity.

Sweden's humane penal system explains why the Scandinavian country figures at the top of Saddam's list of countries he would prefer to stay in, according to Di Stefano.

"You [Swedes] have short sentences and the prisons seem more comfortable than
in other places"

Giovanni Di Stefano, member of Saddam Hussein's legal team

Swedish denial

"You have short sentences and the prisons seem more comfortable than in other places. Sweden also has a history of being neutral," he told Aftonbladet, adding that Saddam's request for permission to temporarily stay in Sweden had been sent to authorities in Stockholm.

However, Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Norman said, "We have not received any such request. We have also checked with the Ministry of Justice, and I can assure you that they haven't received such a request either."

Saddam, arrested by US troops in December 2003 and held at a secret location under US protection, appeared before an Iraqi court on 1 July and was charged with committing "crimes against humanity".