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Trial of Tariq Aziz Opens in Baghdad


The trial has opened of former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who is charged in connection with the execution of dozens of businessmen in 1992.

The proceedings began Tuesday in Baghdad after being delayed for several hours because of difficulty getting Aziz to court.

Aziz has been held for five years and is said to be in poor health. He is on trial for signing the execution orders for 42 businessmen tried and executed in 1992 on charges of manipulating food prices.

If convicted, Aziz faces the death penalty.

He became internationally known as Saddam Hussein's defender and fierce critic of the United States after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing 1991 Gulf War.

He was later promoted to deputy prime minister and often represented Iraq at the United Nations and other international forums.

Aziz is one of eight defendants facing charges in the case. Another defendant is Ali Hasan al-Majid, better known as "Chemical Ali." He was a key accomplice of Saddam Hussein and has already been sentenced to death for the gassing and killing of thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.