Iraq president won't sign execution order
of Saddam's deputy PM Tariq Aziz
November 17, 2010
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Wednesday he
will not sign an execution order for Tareq Aziz, the
former deputy of dictator Saddam Hussein sentenced
to death last month for crimes against humanity.
"No, I will not sign the execution order for Tareq
Aziz, because I am a socialist," Talabani, a Kurd,
told French television France 24 during an
"I sympathize with Tareq Aziz because he is an Iraqi
Christian. Moreover he is an old man who is over
70," he said.
Iraq's high tribunal passed a death
Aziz, once the international face of Saddam's
government, in October over the persecution of
Islamic parties in Iraq during Saddam's rule.
Aziz was the latest member of Saddam's fallen regime
to be ordered to die,
Tariq Aziz gets a medal from Saddam Huseein.
Tariq Aziz was the international face of Saddam's
bloody government for years.
but Talabani said it was
time to turn the page on the punishment, barring for
some sectarian crimes.
"I think that the page of executions needs to be
turned, except concerning the crimes committed at
the cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and
crimes against Shi'ite pilgrims and holy sites," he
The Vatican and Russia both called on Iraq not to
carry out the death sentence on humanitarian
grounds, noting his age and health problems. The
Vatican said mercy would help the war-torn country
make progress toward reconciliation,www.ekurd.netpeace and
Aziz, a Christian, was well known in foreign
capitals and at the United Nations before Saddam's
The U.S. government did not join the appeals to
spare Aziz's life. Analysts said that was partly
because the United States itself carries out the
death penalty and also possibly because it did not
consider his hands to be entirely clean.
It was not clear whether Talabani's opposition to
signing the death sentence would prevent it from
being carried out.
Iraq executed Saddam in 2006 despite Talabani's
apparent refusal then to sign, and the president's
powers since his re-election last week are not the
same as they were during his last term.
A leading Iraqi lawyer said he believed Aziz's death
sentence could not legally be carried out without
Talabani's signature on the execution order.
"According to the Iraqi constitution, the president
of the state has the power to ratify death sentences
before they are carried out," said the lawyer, Tariq
IN THE CONSTITUTION
"Death sentences cannot be implemented without the
approval of the president. This is what is in the
Many high-ranking officials in Saddam's government
have been sentenced to death since the 2003 U.S.-led
invasion, and several have been executed.
Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime killed tens of
thousands in brutal campaigns against minority Kurds
and the Shi'ite majority.
Last year, an Iraqi court sentenced Aziz to 15 years
in prison for his part in the killings of dozens of
merchants in 1992 and to a further seven years for
his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from
northern Iraq during Saddam's rule.
He surrendered to invading U.S. forces in April 2003
but was handed over to Iraqi prison authorities this
Talabani, a Kurd, did not oppose the death sentence
being carried out against other Saddam aides, such
as Ali Hassan al-Majeed, known as "Chemical Ali" for
overseeing poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages in
which thousands died.
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