Statement: Tariq Aziz sentenced for his role in persecuting religious parties in Iraq
According to BBC, former Iraqi top deputy Aziz was convicted by the Iraqi Supreme Court in connection with the persecution of religious parties, a statement said. His son Ziad says his father is a victim of revenge. Le Point, which publishes in French, reads the "death penalty is imposed on the sick man of 74 years for reasons most unclear, "his role in the elimination of religious parties." The newspaper ads that this "is not justice but a pure political revenge."
A decade ago, Aziz was a somewhat respected authority. He was received in Western capitals with all the honors due his rank. He was the number two man in the regime of Saddam Hussein.
At the time when he was traveling to Paris, red carpet was unrolled for his visit. Washington has appreciated him too. Aziz, a Chaldean Christian from Mosul, also had access to the Vatican. He is also credited for restoration of diplomatic relations between U.S. and Iraq in 1984. In fact, it was the time of Iran-Iraq conflict. Baghdad was regarded as the ultimate bulwark of the Arab world against the revolutionary onslaught orchestrated by the Iranian ayatollahs.
Perhaps, human rights were not so important at that time. Iraqi troops contained the onslaught of Persian Revolutionary Guards with financial support from Gulf countries, the massive arms delivered by France and the discreet support of Americans, Le Point writes.
Some political observers in the past have argued saying his role in the Saddam's government was limited due to his Christian faith. Yet, he was the face of the Iraqi regime for the Western world.
"My father never had anything to do with religious parties. This verdict is a disgrace," the son of Aziz Ziad told AFP. "When did they have time to study the verdict? They have not listened to defense counsel of my father?" Ziad said.