Fate of Tariq Aziz up to Iraq, U.S. says

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A decision on whether to carry out the death sentence for former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is up to the Iraqis, a U.S. official said.

Aziz, the 74-year-old former deputy prime minister and only Roman Catholic in the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death this week for his role in the persecution of Shiites in the 1980s.


The Vatican, the Kremlin, Amnesty International and several other members of the international community have publicly objected to the death sentence of Aziz, who suffered a stroke in January.

P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington felt the matter was best left to the Iraqi authorities.

"Our position is that Tariq Aziz was convicted through a legal process that is consistent with the Iraqi constitution," he said during his regular press briefing. "The final disposition of his case is up to Iraq."

Aziz has 30 days to challenge the sentence. Zainab Aziz, his daughter, told CNN from Amman, Jordan, that she didn't think an appeal would help.

"I don't think he has any hope of coming out" of prison, she said.


Giovanni Di Stefano, a lawyer representing the interests of the former leader, said Tuesday's ruling was a shame.

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