Mohammad Munaf, a businessman connected to a terrorism scandal sparked by the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq last year, has been sentenced to death by hanging, the US Embassy to Baghdad confirmed officially on Saturday, according to AFP.

The news was also confirmed by a US Justice Department quoted by Washington Post, while Munaf’s lawyer in the United States told a Romanian TV station that the sentence was the result of an unfair trial manipulated by the US.

The US Embassy spokesman in Baghdad confirmed that the Iraqi Criminal Tribunal sentenced one American citizen (Munaf) and five Iraqi citizens to death in the case of the three Romanian journalists in Iraq last year.

The three, accompanied by Munaf, traveled to Iraq in spring 2005 in a sponsorship deal with a Romanian-Arab businessman, Omar Hayssam. After their release, Hayssam was arrested under terrorism charges in Romania, as it came out he sent the three to Iraq in a shady deal with militias there. Hayssam managed to flee Romania earlier this year, after being released on grounds of health problems.

Munaf remained in Iraq after the release and was indicted there for his role in the kidnapping.

His lawyer in the US, Johnathan Hafetz, told Romanian TV station Antena 3 that Munaf was sentenced to death in an unfair trial that was manipulated by the Americans.

"It is unbelievable. They refused Mr Munaf a fundamental right, that of a fair trial… I understood from Munaf’s Iraqi attorney that he an the other five were to be released because the Romanian Embassy in Baghdad did not submit a complaint.

But a general or US officer appeared who requested that Munaf and the others be sentenced to death", he told Antena 3.

The death sentence is not final and may be appealed against at a superior court in Iraq.

Munaf’s relatives were not informed officially about the verdict.