x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Iraq trial sentences Aziz to death

Iraq's supreme criminal court has sentenced former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz to death, the first death sentence handed down against the long-time international face of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Iraq's former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz appeared before an Iraqi tribunal in on July 1, 2004. Iraq's high tribunal on October 26, 2010 passed a death sentence on Aziz.
Iraq's former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz appeared before an Iraqi tribunal in on July 1, 2004. Iraq's high tribunal on October 26, 2010 passed a death sentence on Aziz.

Iraq's supreme criminal court has sentenced former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz to death, the first death sentence handed down against the long-time international face of the Saddam Hussein regime.

"The supreme criminal court issued an execution order against Tareq Aziz for his role in eliminating religious parties," state television reported.

It said that the court also ordered death sentences against two other top Saddam lieutenants, the former interior minister Saadoun Shaker and Abid Hamoud, the executed dictator's secretary.

All three were sentenced for their role in a crackdown on Shiites, which followed a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad, the court's spokesman Mohammed Abdul Saheb said.

"The order was for the crackdown on religious parties which took place in the 1980s," Abdul Saheb said.

There was another bigger crackdown against Iraq's Shiite majority community following a 1991 uprising against Saddam.

By law, the death sentences have to be confirmed by the presidential council before being carried out.

Aziz's Jordan-based son Ziad said that the death sentence against his father proved the revelations made about the Iraqi state by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

"The decision was an act of revenge against anybody and anything related to the past," he said.

"It proves the credibility of the information published by WikiLeaks ... This verdict is a disgrace," said Ziad, who has lived in Amman with his family since 2003.

WikiLeaks published 391,832 classified US military documents on Iraq on Friday which its founder Julian Assange said showed the war was "a bloodbath on every corner" with numerous reports of abuse of detainees by Iraqi forces, often supported by medical evidence.

"My father had nothing to do with religious parties," Ziad said, referring to the court verdict.

"He himself was a victim of a religious party, Al Dawa," currently led by the prime minister Nuri al Maliki.

Ziad was referring to a grenade attack against his father in a university in Baghdad in April 1980 as he delivered a speech. He was wounded in the attack.

"When did the court have the time to study the verdict? They did not listen to the defence. What kind of justice is this?" he asked.

Of the three former top officials sentenced to death, the urbane Aziz was by far the most prominent figure.

In 2009, he was jailed for 15 years for the 1992 execution of 42 Baghdad wholesalers and separately given a seven-year term for his role in expelling Kurds from Iraq's north. He pleaded not guilty on all counts.