Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Tareq Aziz, former foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death by the Iraqi Supreme Court. Along with Aziz the former Interior Minister Sadoun Shaker and Saddam's private secretary, Abed Hamoud were also sentenced to death.
According to state television, the sentence refers to the role that Aziz played in the elimination of religious parties. It regards the Shiite political groups, including the Dawa Party, of which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now part.
Court spokesman, Abdul Mohammed Sahib, did not specify the date of execution of the sentence which, furthermore, may be subject to appeal. In any case, the death penalty must be confirmed by the Presidents Council of Iraq.
Aziz, 73, was born near Mosul, with a degree in English and literature, he was considered the "human face" of the Saddam regime, mainly used for international relations. For eight years, foreign minister during the First Gulf War, he was subsequently appointed deputy prime minister. A Chaldean Christian, he has always made little account of his religious affiliation, in favour of his Arab and Iraqi sentiments. In February 2003 he was also received by Pope John Paul II, in last minute attempts by the regime to prevent the invasion of the country.
On surrender to the Americans, he had already been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the execution of 42 merchants accused of illegal trafficking. Since January this year, following a heart attack he has been in hospital.