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 Saddam's deputy PM , Tareq Aziz, sentenced to death   

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Saddam's deputy PM , Tareq Aziz, sentenced to death  26.10.2010 

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Tariq Aziz was the international face of Saddam's bloody government for years. Life photo
October 26, 2010

BAGHDAD,—  The Supreme Criminal Court has issued a decision on Tuesday for the execution of three of Iraq’s former high-ranking officials during former President Saddam Hussein’s regime, including former Deputy Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, according to the semi-official Iraqiya TV Channel.

“The Supreme Criminal Court has issued a decision to execute three leading members of the former (Iraqi) regime, charged with the elimination of the religious parties, including former Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz,” the Iraqiya TV Channel said, adding that the two other former officials were former Interior Minister, Sadoun Shaker and Saddam Hussein’s Office Chief, Abed Hamid Hmoud.     

Tareq Aziz, 74, was the only Christian member in Saddam Hussein’s leadership, who handed himself up to the U.S. troops after their occupation of Iraq in April, 2003, and had been among very few membersof Saddam’s regime who escaped death till this date.

Tareq Aziz is looked upon by the world at large as having been the leading spokesman in the name of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime, as he held the post of deputy prime minister in 1991,
www.ekurd.netafter holding the foreign minister’s post for a long time.

Aziz had charged U.S. President, Barrak Obama, with “having left Iraq for the wolves,” when Obama issued his decision to pull out the U.S. combat troops, despite the escalation of terrorism in Iraq recently.

He had also been sentenced for 15 years under charges of having contributed in the execution of 15 Iraqi merchants, during the previous regime, along with another 7-year sentence for his role in forcing large numbers of Iraqi Kurds to leave their home towns in northern Iraq.

Born in the northern town of Sinjar on February 1, 1936, Aziz was from a Chaldean Catholic family. He changed his given name, Michael Yuhanna, to allay any Arab nationalist hostility to his Christian background.

Aziz had known Saddam -- who was toppled in the invasion and then executed under the Shiite-dominated new regime -- since the 1950s but was kept outside the closed Sunni circle of the president's clansmen from the town of Tikrit.

Aziz became internationally known as the dictator's defender and a fierce American critic first as foreign minister after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and later as a deputy prime minister. His meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker in Geneva in January 1991 failed to prevent the 1991 Gulf War. Aziz also met with the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican weeks before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion in a bid to head off that conflict.

Iraq has executed a number of high-profile members of Saddam's regime, including "Chemical Ali" al-Majid, Saddam's cousin, who earned his nickname for atrocities such as the deaths of an estimated 5,000 Kurds in a poison gas attack in 1988.

Saddam was taunted by onlookers as he went to the gallows in December 2006, at the height of the sectarian violence, shocking many observers in and outside the country and raising allegations the Shiite-led government was bent on revenge.

Aziz was on trial in a long-running case in which he is accused of being part of a campaign of persecuting, killing and torturing members of the Shiite opposition and the banned religious parties, like the Shiite Dawa Party, of which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking part in forced displacement and 10 years for committing torture. Judge Mahmoud Saleh al-Hassan declared the harshest punishment — death by hanging — for participating in deliberate killings but gave no details.

Aziz was one of five members of the deposed regime who were convicted Tuesday of similar crimes. A sixth defendant, Saddam's half brother, Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan, was found innocent because of lack of evidence, the judge said. Al-Hassan served as interior minister.

Aziz has already been convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the 1992 execution of 42 merchants found guilty of profiteering. He also received a seven-year prison sentence for a case involving the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.

If the Appeals' Court upholds the death sentence, the law says Aziz should be hung within 30 days of the final decision. The Iraqi president also needs to sign off on an execution order.

Aziz predicted in a recent interview with the AP that he will die in prison, citing his old age and lengthy prison sentences.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, | AP | Agencies  


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