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 Tareq Aziz denys shiite uprising role

 Source : AP
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Tareq Aziz denys shiite uprising role 28.6.2005


Tariq Aziz - 27.June.2005
Photo : Reuters

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz denied any role in the bloody quelling of a 1991 Shiite uprising and said Saddam Hussein made decisions on his own, according to a video released Monday by an Iraqi tribunal.

It was the fifth tape release by the Iraqi Special Tribunal this month, and the first to include audible dialogue from a defendant. A tired-looking Aziz could be heard replying to an investigating magistrate's questions.

Wearing a traditional white-colored Arab robe with C1 stenciled in black on its left breast, Aziz said he had nothing to do with repressing the uprising, which left thousands of Shiites dead.

''I had no effective role at that time. I was sitting inside the foreign affairs building,'' he said. ''I did not have much authority during that time, but I heard that many top Baath party officials went to the south, but I had no contact with them at all.''

Aziz added that Saddam was making ''decisions without discussing them with us because, as head of the Revolution Command Council, he was behaving as if his decisions carried the weight of the law.''

Aziz's lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref, is shown taking notes.

The tape also showed a man identified as Saber Abdulaziz al-Douri being questioned separately. Al-Douri could only be heard confirming his name and job as a former intelligence chief under Saddam.

It was unclear why parts of Aziz's testimony could be heard when previous defendants were muted out.

The video was released one day after the tribunal issued another showing two of the ousted dictator's half brothers being questioned about their alleged role in displacing and killing Kurds.

Previous videos have included one that showed Saddam being questioned, and another that showed his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, nicknamed ''Chemical Ali'' for his alleged role in a 1988 chemical attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja that killed about 5,000.

Saddam, 68, has been jailed under American control at a U.S. military detention complex near the Baghdad airport since his December 2003 capture.

He faces charges that include killing rival politicians over 30 years, gassing Kurds in Halabja, invading Kuwait in 1990 and suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991.

Although no dates have been set for any of the trials, senior government officials, including Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal, have said Saddam would go on trial within two months or by the end of the year. They have backtracked repeatedly following complaints from the Iraqi Special Tribunal.

Referring to speculation over the date of Saddam's trial, the tribunal said it was the only body authorized to make such a decision and any other comments ''are just predictions.'' It has in the past said no trial date has been set.



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