Talabani fails in bid to secure medical
treatment for Barzan Tikriti
By Duraid Salman in Baghdad (ICR No. 153, 23-Nov-05)
President’s Humanitarian Gesture Snubbed
Talabani fails in bid to secure medical treatment
for indicted Ba’ath Party official.
The prosecutor trying Saddam Hussein and his former
aides has said he will not consider transferring one
of the defendants to hospital for cancer treatment,
despite an appeal by President Jalal Talabani.
Barzan Tikriti is being held in an Iraqi prison as
he awaits trial for committing crimes against
humanity. Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and his
former intelligence chief, is charged along with
Saddam and five other Ba'ath Party officials with
carrying out mass arrests, torturing civilians and
killing 148 men in 1982 in the village of Dijail.
The trial briefly opened on October 19 and is
expected to resume on November 28.
Tikriti, who was captured by US forces in April
2003, suffers from spinal cancer. He appealed in
late October to Iraqi leaders - and particularly
Talabani, whom he called "an old friend" - to be
transferred to hospital.
Talabani was the only official to call for his
release. He said in a statement that the "new Iraq"
supports humanitarian principles "that guarantee the
right to health care and medical treatment for all
of its citizens".
President : Jalal Talabani
Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, was on the US "most
Former Intelligence chief.
Jafar al-Musawi, the prosecutor in the trial at the
Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, said the court
ultimately decides whether defendants should be
transferred to medical facilities. He indicated that
Talabani had no authority in the matter, insisting
that “the court decides on the destiny of
Musawi said Tikriti was being treated in prison and
that humanitarian groups and officials had visited
him. The prosecutor said the court would evaluate
his health and consider transferring him to hospital
if he made a formal request and if his condition
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'afari, who has refused
to meet with former high-level Ba'athists, said
Tikriti's health should be evaluated to determine if
his condition requires treatment outside of prison.
International human rights organisations and some
legal experts have expressed concern over the
fairness of the tribunal. Many question whether
Saddam and his former deputies can receive a fair
trial in Iraq. International and local human rights
organisations have also criticised Iraqi authorities
for inhumane conditions in the country's prisons.
Tikriti's lawyers could not be reached for comment.
The defence team for Saddam and his seven former
aides has gone into hiding after two of its lawyers,
including one of Tikriti's key attorneys, were
killed. Another lawyer representing Tikriti sought
asylum in Qatar two weeks ago following one of the
The defence team unsuccessfully appealed to the
court to delay the trial following the killings.
Some were suspicious that the lawyers were
attempting to slow down the trial to have more time
Qassim al-Sahlani, a politburo member of Ja'afari's
Dawa Islamic Party, said the party did not want
Tikriti's illness to stall the tribunal. He said if
Tikriti receives medical attention, it should be
approved by the court and that he should be treated
"the same as an average citizen. We do not want any
of these tyrants to receive special treatment".
Qasim Dundun, the head of the Turkmen Front's
Baghdad branch, was held as a political prisoner
under the former regime and said prisoners died
because they did not receive medical attention.
He and Sahlani both noted that the former regime did
not allow prisoners to receive treatment or even
have defence attorneys.
But Dhafir Eedan, a 51-year-old retired police
officer, argued that the government needs to respect
the rights of all prisoners, including their rights
to medical attention.
"The issue should not be used as revenge for what
they did," maintained Eedan. "Iraq is witnessing an
historic change, and the way it deals with prisoners
has to be different as well."
Duraid Salman is an IWPR trainee journalist in
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news
information on this page