Nearly four years after the execution of Saddam Hussein, as stated in the indictment "for the persecution of religious parties," his best friend and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz of Iraq has been sentenced to death. At various times he headed the Ministry of Information, Culture, Foreign Affairs, was the chief editor of the ruling Baath Party. The Vatican is against the execution of a single Christian in Saddam's environment. The Holy See appealed to the Iraqi government asking them not to execute a sentence, for the sake of "restoration of peace and justice in Iraq." The son of the sentenced to death, Ziad Aziz, called this the revenge of the current administration, which has no relation to justice. The lawyer of the accused, Arif, said the verdict was "politically motivated."
After the end of the war in Iraq in April of 2003, Tariq Aziz surrendered voluntarily to the American command. In two previous trials he was sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison on charges of involvement in the forced deportation of the Kurds, as well as a death sentence to 42 traders who artificially inflated food prices in the face of the economic blockade.
At a subsequent process, the new Iraqi government failed to prove the guilt of Aziz in the brutal suppression of Shiite uprising. However, on October 26, the Iraqi tribunal sentenced the former vice-premier to death penalty. The death sentence is also awaiting the chief of the secret police of the former regime Saadoun Shakir, and personal secretary Abdulhamid Hussein Hammoud. Former allies of the Iraqi dictator are accused of the involvement in the massacre of Shiites in 1982, which followed a failed assassination attempt on Hussein.
Russia Today: Death sentence for Tariq Aziz draws international condemnation
We can assume that so many death sentences were handed down because the members of the radical Shiite party, Dawa (Islamic Call Party) got a strong predominance of power in Iraq and are taking revenge on their former enemies. General Secretary of the Dawa Nouri al-Maliki has been the Prime Minister of Iraq since April 2006. The Constitutional mandate of al-Maliki will expire this year, so he and the members of his conservative Islamic party are in a hurry to punish all his enemies. Including the ill 74-year-old Aziz, who suffers from a whole bouquet of lung disease, diabetes and hypertension. In January of this year, while in the U.S. Army hospital, he suffered a stroke, because of which for some time he lost the ability to speak.
Tariq Aziz who speaks impeccable English and who held a position of a foreign minister for a long time was called the "friendly face of Iraq". In a sense, he was the polar opposite of Saddam Hussein, whose speech is often characterized as unfriendly aggressive tone. Despite the fact that Aziz belonged to one of the closest circle of Iraqi dictator and has held several key positions, just before the fall of Saddam's regime, he has not played his usual role.
Multiple references of Aziz's lawyer to poor health of his ward who recently suffered a heart attack indicate that he requires long-term treatment abroad, but this did not have any influence on the judges. None of the petitions have been satisfied. His lawyer Arif plans to appeal this obviously politically biased sentence made by Muslim radicals.
Meanwhile, local media continue the discussion about the transfer of the former Saddam's henchman in the hands of the Iraqi justice system. 200 prisoners are located on an American military base Cropper, which hosted Saddam Hussein in anticipation of his execution and where until recently Tariq Aziz was kept. The lawyer of the latter also objected to his transfer to the Iraqi authorities.
"We do not want prisoners to submit to the Iraqi government," quoted a close relative of Saddam Hussein's half brothers on the website Welt-online. "We want them to remain in custody of the Americans."
Since the arrested started to be transferred to the Iraqi authorities, the number of death sentences has been growing. According to these indicators in the past year, Iraq ranks third, behind only China and Iran.
Read the original in Russian