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 Iraq's Aziz demands 'just' verdict in killings case

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Iraq's Aziz demands 'just' verdict in killings case  12.2.2009

February 12, 2009

AMMAN, Iraq's former deputy premier Tareq Aziz has demanded a just verdict in his trial with seven others including "Chemical Ali" Ali Hasan al-Majid over the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants accused of racketeering, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Aziz, 73, is being tried in Iraq for crimes against humanity over the deaths of the merchants who were accused of speculating on food prices when the country was under punishing UN sanctions.

Prosecutors say the victims were arrested in Baghdad's wholesale markets and executed after a speedy trial in 1992. They also allege that the former regime then seized their money and property.

"Aziz sent a letter to the Iraqi High Criminal Court at the end of December demanding a just ruling," Amman-based Badea Aref told AFP.

"He told the court that he attended all sessions and heard all witnesses, but did not hear any complaint or testimony against him."

The eight defendants could be sentenced to death if convicted.

"There are no indications that I was involved in the case," Aref quoted Aziz as saying in his letter.

Aziz, a Christian who also served as foreign minister under now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, is also among 16 former officials on trial in Iraq for a brutal 1980s campaign against Feyli Kurds (Shiite Kurds).                   

Tariq Aziz was the international face of Saddam's bloody government for years

Ali Hassan al-Majid, first cousin of executed dictator Saddam Hussein and also known as 'Chemical Ali', 'Butcher of Kurdistan'  sentenced to death over Kurdish genocide in June 2007
He turned himself in to US forces in April 2003 after Saddam's regime was overthrown, but his son last year complained that he was being held in very bad conditions and was suffering from a variety of ailments.

"Chemical Ali" Ali Hasan al-Majid was 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.  

Anfal was an anti-Kurdish campaign led by the former regime between 1986 and 1989 and involved a series of military campaigns against the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as well as the mostly Kurdish civilian population of southern Kurdistan 'northern Iraq'.

The campaign,
in which chemical weapons were used, The Anfal operation crackdown that killed nearly 200,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas.

In February 2008, Iraq's presidency endorsed the execution of Saddam Hussein's cousin "Chemical Ali,"

Copyright, respective author or news agency,  AFP | Agencies 


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