IRAQ: TAREQ AZIZ SENTENCED TO DEATH
October 26, 2010: Iraq's high tribunal passed a death sentence on Tareq Aziz, once the international face of dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, over the persecution of Islamic parties, the court said.
The death sentence was the first to be handed down to Aziz, who was well known in foreign capitals and at the United Nations before Saddam's downfall. He rose to prominence at the time of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War, when he was foreign minister.
"The court today issued the death sentence on Tareq Aziz and four others for committing crimes against humanity. The charge of elimination of religious parties was classified as crimes against humanity," Judge Mohammed Abdul-Sahib, a spokesman of the Iraqi High Tribunal, told Reuters.
"The nature of the crimes is willful killing, torture and the enforced disappearance of persons."
Last year, Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his part in the killings of dozens of merchants in 1992 and to a further seven years for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from northern Iraq during Saddam's rule.
Sahib said Aziz, as well as four other defendants in the case who were also sentenced to death, were expected to appeal the decision.
Iraqi law provides for an automatic appeal for all death-sentence and life-imprisonment cases, even if the defendants do not lodge an appeal themselves.
The four other defendants sentenced to death were former interior minister and intelligence chief, Sadoun Shakir, Abed Hamoud, a former private secretary to Saddam, Saddam's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan and, a former top Baath party official, Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafour. (Sources: Reuters, 26/10/2010)