News / Middle East

Saddam's Deputy Tariq Aziz Sentenced to Die

Tariq Aziz (L), former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister speaks to the Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, 05 Sep 2010
Tariq Aziz (L), former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister speaks to the Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, 05 Sep 2010

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has been sentenced to death for persecuting religious parties in the 1980s.   Aziz, one of the most prominent figures of the Saddam Hussein era, is expected to appeal the verdict.  

Aziz was found guilty of repressing members of the Dawa party, the Shi'ite group which claims current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a member.

No date was given for his execution by hanging.  Aziz had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Presiding official Mahmoud Saleh al-Hassan said the court will consider an appeal, a process lawyers must start within 30 days.  

Four other Saddam-era officials were also sentenced to death, including former Interior Minister Sadoun Shakir and Saddam's secretary Abed Hamoud.

A Christian among the many Sunnis in Saddam's secular government, Aziz also served as deputy prime minister.  He was viewed by many as less brutal and more urbane than others in Saddam's inner circle, where cruelty was legendary.  He surrendered to the U.S. authorities shortly after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and was transferred to Iraqi custody earlier this year.

Aziz is already serving prison terms for the forced displacement of Kurds and his role in the state's execution of  42 merchants in 1992.

Despite being the international face of the former regime, Aziz has long maintained he was simply a loyalist of the Saddam government.  That sentiment was echoed Tuesday on the streets of Baghad.

School teacher Muna Sami said Aziz had done no harm to the Iraqi people and had been receiving orders from those above him.

Civil servant Ali Kahlaf strongly disagreed about the former official's culpability.

Kahlaf argued that Aziz should have been executed "a long time ago."  

Lawyers for the former foreign minister questioned the timing of the sentence, contending it was an attempt to divert attention from the Iraqi government's troubles.   The ruling comes just days after the whistleblowing group Wikileaks released classified U.S. documents implicating current Iraqi authorities in torture and other abuse.

The sentence also serves as a reminder of the repression of Shi'ites under the Sunni Saddam at a time of renewed sectarian concerns.   Prime Minister Maliki is trying to form a new government mainly of Shi'ite parties, while his rival, fellow Shi'ite Ayad Allawi, has the backing of minority Sunnis.

Some legal experts had argued Iraq should have deferred to an international tribunal for Saddam-era crimes, to avoid possible political influences on the rulings.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid