Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Tariq Aziz, Saddam-era official, gets 15-year term

 Saad Jabbar, right, sits with his son Shawqi Abdulamer at their family store they inherited from his father Jabar Nadir al-Saidi in Baghdad, Iraq, We...
 Saad Jabbar works at a store he inherited from his father Jabbar Nadir al-Saidi in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 11, 2009.  al-Saidi was one of the...
 Image of Jabar Nadir al-Saidi is placed on a desk at his store in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 11, 2009.  al-Saidi was one of the  42 merchants ex...

Iraq Aziz Trial

Saad Jabbar, right, sits with his son Shawqi Abdulamer at their family store they inherited from his father Jabar Nadir al-Saidi in Baghdad, Iraq, We...

Iraq Aziz Trial

Saad Jabbar works at a store he inherited from his father Jabbar Nadir al-Saidi in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 11, 2009. al-Saidi was one of the...

Iraq Aziz Trial

Image of Jabar Nadir al-Saidi is placed on a desk at his store in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 11, 2009. al-Saidi was one of the 42 merchants ex...

For years he was the urbane, cigar-smoking face of Saddam Hussein's regime, who argued his boss' case in the international corridors of power.
Tariq Aziz now faces 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity in the 1992 execution of Iraqi merchants _ his first conviction for his role in the ousted regime.
The silver-haired former foreign minister, deputy prime minister and Saddam insider blinked frequently Wednesday as the judge read the verdict _ guilty on four counts of crimes against humanity including complicity in murder and torture.
Aziz, wearing a blue jacket, black shirt and his trademark thick, black-rimmed glasses, stood silently. When the judge finished, Aziz quietly asked if he could sit down. The request was granted.
He sat with his eyes shut as other defendants rose to hear their sentences.
Two of Saddam's half-brothers, former Interior Minister Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan and director of public security Sabawi Ibrahim, were sentenced to death in the merchants' case.
Saddam's cousin "Chemical Ali" al-Majid, who already faces three death sentences from previous cases, also got a 15-year prison sentence.
Three other defendants received sentences of life in prison, 15 years and six years. Former Central Bank Gov. Issam Rashid Hweish was acquitted for lack of evidence.
The defendants were accused of involvement in the July 1992 roundup of 42 merchants accused by Saddam of being behind a sharp increase in food prices when the country was suffering hardships under sanctions.
The merchants were arrested over two days in Baghdad's wholesale markets and charged with manipulating food supplies to drive up prices. They were executed hours later after a quick trial.
Prosecutors had argued that Aziz was complicit because he was a member of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council that rubber-stamped Saddam's decisions.
After hearing his death sentence, Ibrahim shouted "Long live Iraq" and "Down with the occupier."
"I am proud to be one of Iraq's martyrs and to join the martyr Saddam Hussein," he cried.
But Aziz, a fluent English-speaker and the only Christian in Saddam's mostly Sunni Muslim inner circle, displayed none of the bravado or self assurance that he showed when representing Iraq at the United Nations and world capitals.
Instead, it was left to his lawyer and relatives to speak out on his behalf.
Defense attorney Badee Izzat Aref said he would appeal and that Aziz was traveling in Europe when the executions occurred.
"My client had no role in the execution of the traders. He spent most of his time on diplomatic missions outside Iraq and he was removed from domestic issues," he said.
Aziz joined Saddam's Baath Party when he was 21 years old and worked for years as a journalist. A loyal party member, he changed his name from Mikhail Yuhanna to a more Arabic-sounding Tariq Aziz and rose through party ranks to the ruling Revolutionary Command Council in 1977.
He became deputy prime minister in 1979. A year later, he survived an assassination attempt by Shiite militants _ an attack that was used to justify in part Saddam's invasion of Iran in 1980, triggering an eight-year war.
Aziz became internationally known as the dictator's defender and a fierce American critic as foreign minister after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent 1991 Gulf War.
Just weeks before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Aziz met with the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in a bid to head off the conflict.
Aziz, who was No. 43 in the deck of cards of wanted regime figures issued after Saddam's ouster, surrendered to American forces on April 25, 2003. But he didn't face charges until last year.
Two former U.N. humanitarian coordinators and one of Iraq's senior Christians, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, were among the voices calling for his release in past years.
Last week, Aziz was acquitted of being responsible for a brutal crackdown on Shiite protesters that followed the 1999 assassination of a revered cleric, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr _ the father of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Three other former regime officials were sentenced to death in that case, including Chemical Ali. It was his third death sentence for atrocities under Saddam's rule.
Aziz also faces charges in a third case involving the killing and arrest of hundreds of Kurds in the early 1980s that are still pending.
Presiding over Aziz's trial was chief judge Raouf Abdul-Rahman, who sentenced Saddam to death in November 2006 for his role in the killing of Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt in 1982. Saddam was hanged the following December.
Aziz defended the former ruler until the end. He testified in pajamas and insisted Saddam had no choice but to crack down in the Shiite town north of Baghdad after a July 8, 1982, shooting attack on his motorcade there.
___
Associated Press Writers Hamza Hendawi and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-26 07:32 GMT+08:00