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More jail time for Iraq's Aziz

2011-03-16 20:12

Baghdad - Iraq's former deputy premier Tareq Aziz received a life sentence on Wednesday for his role in the 1980s killing of Shi'ite officials, a judicial spokesperson said.

Aziz, who was sentenced to death in October for other crimes, appeared in court with former interior minister Saadun Shaker, his co-defendant on charges of murdering the sons of Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, a key figure behind a 1960 Shi'ite political revival in Iraq.

Court spokesperson Mohammed Abdel Sahab said, without specifying the number of people the pair was charged with killing: ''The Iraqi High Criminal Court sentenced Tareq Aziz and Saadun Shaker to life imprisonment.

He said: "This is a different case from the killing of members of the Dawa party," for which Aziz was sentenced to death.

Iraq's supreme criminal court in October found Aziz guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity" and sentenced him to death.

Aziz, a Christian and a close confidante of Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator who was ousted in the March 2003 US-led invasion, has remained in prison since surrendering to American forces shortly after the invasion.

Wednesday's verdict was the sixth prison sentence against Aziz.

Execution

The Vatican, the European Union and several Western governments have called on Baghdad for clemency for Aziz, whose family says he is suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.

President Jalal Talabani, who must approve the execution order before it is carried out, has said he would not sign it.

Aziz was in November sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in killing members of the Kurdish community in the 1980s.

He was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison for torture and received a second 10-year term for crimes against humanity.

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

He pleaded not guilty on all counts.