Iraq: new charges for Tariq Aziz

Former Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz and 15 other high-ranking former officials in the government of Saddam Hussein appeared in court over the weekend and were charged with crimes committed during Hussein’s regime. According to his lawyer, Aziz will now stand trial on charges of squandering public funds. Aziz’s lawyer contends that he has been denied access to his client and that the current Iraqi government is attempting to find a reason to execute Aziz.

The new charges were filed less than a week after the US transferred 26 Saddam-era Iraqi officials, including Aziz, from Camp Cropper to the Iraqi-controlled Kadhimiya prison in Baghdad. Aziz has said he he fears for his life while in the custody of the current Iraqi government and plans to appeal to the Vatican to intervene on his behalf. Aziz’s family has called for his release on health grounds, claiming he has had two heart attacks and suffered a stroke in January. In August 2009, Aziz was convicted of forcing Kurdish displacement from northeast Iraq during the late 1980s, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. In March 2009, Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 1992 murders of 42 merchants accused of price-gouging during a period of UN-imposed sanctions. The US continues to hold eight Saddam-era officials at the request of the Iraqi government.

From Jurist, July 19. Used with permission.

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