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 Iraq's Tariq Aziz threatens hunger strike: son 

 Source : AFP
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Iraq's Tariq Aziz threatens hunger strike  26.7.2007

July 26, 2007

AMMAN, -- Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who collapsed in a US military prison earlier this month, is in failing health and he has threatened to go on hunger strike, his son said on Thursday.

"I spoke to my father on the phone yesterday. His voice was weak and inaudible. I could hardly understand him but he is clearly in bad shape," Ziad Aziz said, in a telephone interview.

He said that he understood from his father "that he and 14 co-detainees plan on starting a hunger strike next week if the court continues to deny him the right to have a lawyer present during interrogations.

"My father's lawyer -- Badih Aref Ezzat -- is not allowed in Iraq for mysterious reasons and as a result my father is without a lawyer," said Aziz who has lived in Jordan with his family since April 2003.

Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, the former dictator Saddam Hussein's top aides

Last week Tariq Aziz, 71, underwent medical tests after suffering a fall while walking at a US prison camp on July 17, but he was given a clean bill of health and returned to custody, the US military said.

Aziz, who also served as foreign minister under the regime of late dictator Saddam Hussein, is being detained at a camp outside Baghdad on suspicion of crimes against humanity.

According to his son Aziz "now shares his cell with another prisoner who takes care of him because he is so weak.

Ziad Aziz said he would hold US President George W. Bush, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown responsible for his father's health.

Aziz turned himself over in April 2003 over to US forces one month after they overthrew Saddam.

He was later questioned several times by judges of the Iraqi Special Tribunal trying the former president and top aides for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Aziz could face charges of mass murder, allegedly committed in 1979 and 1991, and would face the death penalty if convicted. He has denied any involvement, and his lawyers say he has never been formally charged.



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