Iraq's Tareq Aziz will not be spared death penalty: son

AMMAN, Kamal Taha- Iraq's former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz is bound to be executed despite international calls to Baghdad to spare him, his son told AFP in Jordan on Saturday.
"I am not optimistic and I believe that the Iraqi government is turning a deaf ear to all the appeals being made for an amnesty or for the sentence to be annulled or commuted," the Amman-based Ziad Aziz said.

Tareq Aziz with sadam Husain
Tareq Aziz with sadam Husain
Aziz was sentenced to death on October 26 for the suppression of Shiite religious parties in the 1980s, and is also on trial for a crackdown on Iraqi Kurds.
Iraq's supreme criminal court found the long-time international face of former president Saddam Hussein's regime guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity," sentencing him to death.
In poor health and among Saddam's few surviving top cohorts, Aziz, 74, has been in prison since surrendering in April 2003, shortly after the fall of Baghdad in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Aziz, who was born to a Christian family, was foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam who was executed in 2006.
"Everyone in Iraq, the young before the old, knows that the sentence against my father was politically motivated and that he had nothing to do with the repression of religious factions," Aziz said.
The death sentence provoked a wave of appeals for clemency from around the world, including from rights groups, the European Union, Russia and the Vatican.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini plans to ask Iraqi authorities during a visit next month for "a gesture of clemency," his spokesman Maurizio Massari said on Friday. Frattini is set to visit Baghdad on December 5.
And on Thursday the European Parliament urged Iraq to drop the death sentence, warning in a resolution that killing him would "do little to improve the climate of violence."
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had said on November 17 that he would not sign the execution order against Aziz.
But the EU parliament noted that the Iraqi constitution includes "mechanisms for executions to be carried out on parliamentary authority."
One of Aziz's lawyers, Badie Aref, said on Thursday that he was sceptical about Talabani's intentions.
"Mr Talabani's remarks were not clear," Aref told AFP. "He said he would not sign (the execution order) but he did not say he would oppose it. That's why I'm sceptical."
Aref also complained that the defence was "unable to appeal because it never received the text of the verdict."
On October 27, another defence lawyer, Giovanni Di Stefano, said that Aziz will probably not appeal his death sentence as this would legitimise the court that handed down the verdict.
"We probably won't," Di Stefano told AFP in Rome when asked if the defence team would appeal, adding that he had appealed instead to the UN Human Rights Commissioner and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
Aziz had 30 days to appeal.

Sunday, November 28th 2010
Kamal Taha

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