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August 10, 2004

We have word from Aziz...

Tariq Aziz tells son he faces death
10/08/2004 - 14:56:13

Imprisoned former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has told his son that he faces the death sentence after being accused of responsibility for mass killings in 1979 and 1991.

It was the first time details of the charges against Aziz had been made public. His son, Ziad Tariq Aziz, called the accusations “baseless”.

The 1979 charges appear linked to the killings of 22 Baath Party members allegedly involved in an anti-government plot shortly after Saddam Hussein took power. In 1991, Saddam’s regime brutally repressed uprisings by Kurdish and Shiite Iraqis.

“Of course, according to the Iraqi penal code, the punishment for those two counts is death,” Tariq Aziz wrote from his prison in a letter to his son.

The elder Aziz, a close aide to Saddam for decades, was best known as Iraq’s urbane, English-speaking foreign minister from 1983 to 1991. He was deputy prime minister at the time of Saddam’s overthrow last year.

Ziad Aziz, who is living in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said that in a letter dated July 1 and relayed by the Red Cross last week, his father also asked him to appoint lawyers to defend him, unaware that already had been done.

In his letter Tariq Aziz had requested, among others, that Ramsey Clark, who was US Attorney General during the Lyndon B Johnson presidency, represents him.

Clark has said he would be willing to provide legal counsel to Saddam if requested. He is a staunch anti-war advocate who has met Saddam on several occasions in the past decade