According to the court’s media office, Tariq Aziz, the ex-Iraqi foreign minister and Saddam Hussein’s most prominent deputies was issued execution order by high tribunal over persecution of Islamic parties.
On Tuesday, this death sentence was announced which was the first to be handed to Tariq Aziz, who was the face of Saddam’s government in foreign capitals and at the United Nations.
Tariq Aziz was at the center of explaining policy of Iraq in the months leading up to the 1st Gulf War after invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, and in the years after as Iraq faced sanctions and arms inspections.
He met with Pope John-Paul II in 2003, in an attempt to avoid the threat of military action by the United States and its allies.
The Iraqi high tribunal was established in 2003 to try former members of Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In April 2003 when the United States forces entered Baghdad, Tariq Aziz was number forty-three on the list of the fifty-five most wanted senior officials of Iraq. On April 25, he turned himself in to United States forces and has been in their custody ever since.
On April 29, 2008 he was brought to trial and was accused of signing an order for the execution of forty-two merchants who in July 1992, allegedly manipulated food prices at the peak of the Iraq’s economic downtrend under United Nations sanctions. He has denied the charges.
Prosecutors had also hoped that Tariq Aziz would testify against Saddam Hussein, but he refused to condemn his onetime boss and kept on referring to him as “the president”.
Tariq Aziz’s family say his health has deteriorated substantially since he suffered a stroke prior to the United States invasion. Senior members of Assyrian Church of Iraq have called on United States forces to release him.
On March 11, 2009 an Iraqi court found him guilty of the July 1992 executions and handed him a fifteen-year sentence.