Aziz sentenced over Saddam-era killings

AN Iraqi court has sentenced former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz to 10 years in prison for the killing of minority Faili Kurds during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Aziz, the long-time international face of Saddam’s regime, has already been sentenced to death for the suppression of Shiite religious parties in the 1980s, although there have been international calls for him to be spared.

“The courts issued a 10-year prison sentence against Tareq Aziz and Ahmed Hussein Khodayr,” a spokesman for the supreme criminal court said. Khodayr was an aide to the now executed dictator.

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 capture of Baghdad in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Aziz, who was born to a Christian family, was Iraq’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam, who was hanged in December 2006.

The death sentence, which was handed down on Oct. 26, provoked a wave of appeals for clemency from around the world, including from human rights groups, the European Union, Russia and the Vatican.

In 2009, he was jailed for 15 years for the 1992 execution of 42 Baghdad wholesalers and given a seven-year term for his role in expelling Kurds from Iraq’s north.

He has also been sentenced to 15 years in prison for “committing torture” and 10 years for “participating in torture,” and Iraqi courts have ordered that all of his known assets be confiscated.

Saadun Shaker, a former interior government minister, Aziz Saleh al Nohman and Mizban Khoder Hadi, both members of regional Baath party commands, were meanwhile all sentenced to death in connection with the displacement and killing of Faili Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war which stretched from 1980 to 1988.

Seven others were released “for lack of evidence,” the court spokesman said.

Unlike most Kurds, the Failis are Shiite Muslim, and many were expelled from Iraq when Saddam’s minority Sunni Arab-led regime waged war with Iran.

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