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 Saddam Hussein's lawyer predicts Tariq Aziz will escape execution   

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Saddam Hussein's lawyer predicts Tariq Aziz will escape execution  2.1.2011 
By Hemin Baban 

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January 2, 2011

AMMAN, — Badi Arif Izzat, a lawyer who has represented top figures from the former Iraqi Ba’athist regime, including former President Saddam Hussein and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz at the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, says, in an email interview with Rudaw from Jordan, that he is back defending Aziz in court again , after having given the case up some time ago. He predicts Aziz’s death sentence will be commuted as a result of the intervention of a number of Western countries. Izzat also discloses that he is withholding a message for Kurdish leaders from Barzan Tikreti – the executed half-brother of Saddam Hussein and former head of the Iraqi intelligence service – until the release of Izzat’s diaries.

Q: Two weeks ago you came to Iraq and visited former Iraqi Ba’athist regime leaders in prison. Who did you meet and what were their concerns?

Izzat: I went to Baghdad despite all the sectarian and political violence there (in contrast to the Kurdistan region’s stable situation) and despite my colleagues’ worries. I met 17 detainees, including Muhammed Mahdi Salih, former Iraqi trade minister; Mahmoud Diyab Ahmed, former Iraqi interior minister; Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafoor,                         

Saddam Defence lawyer Badie Aref Farhan Saleh. Photo: Getty Images.
former member of the Ba’ath party leadership council; Zuher Naqeeb, former head of Iraqi intelligence; Hamid Yosif Hamidi, former Iraqi minister of culture; Walid H. Tofiq, former head of the Republican Guard; and Latif Mahal Hamoud, former Basra governor. However, I was not able to meet [former intelligence chief] Sadoun Shakir, Tariq Aziz and [Hussein’s former secretary] Abid Hamoud, who have all been given death sentences. I was unable to meet them because they were all appearing at court for various cases. I would like to thank Dara Nooradin, Iraqi minister of justice; and Posho Ibrahim, head of detainees’ affairs, for their respect and highly professional behavior.

Q: Some of the detainees are suffering from serious illness. How was their state of health?

Izzat: Most of the detainees are indeed suffering from sever illnesses. For example, Sadoun Shakir is in a very bad state of health; he has had cardiac surgery three times. Saadi Toa’ma Jaboori, [former] minister of labor and social affairs; [former presidential advisor] Sabaawi Ibrahim Hassan (Saddam’s step-brother); [former top Ba’athist leader] Fazil Abbas Amri; Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafoor; and [former top military intelligence official] Farhan Mutlaq [Jubouri] have been diagnosed with cancer. Zuher Naqib, [former] head of the secret service, has lost his eyesight completely. They are being treated to some extent, but I urge [Iraqi Kurdistan President] Mr. Masoud Barzani and [Iraqi President] Jalal Talabani to help Sadoun Shakir, and save his life. He is in a very bad condition. The detainees are being treated not by physicians, but nurses, so I ask Posho Ibrahim to transfer Sadoun Shakir to Kazimiya Hospital as soon as possible, before he passes away.

Q: You are planning to demand the commuting of the death penalty for some of the detainees and to file a complaint against the court. Why?

Izzat: Yes, I have a very important document to publish concerning the trials, which I will do later. The document proves that all the verdicts reached by the court were hollow verdicts. The court does not exist legally. Soon, Jacque Verges [French lawyer who is internationally renowned for defending war criminals] and I will hold a press conference in France and will publish the document. I will ask for the release of all the detainees,
www.ekurd.netincluding those who are sentenced to death. I will practice my profession, away from politics – I just try to stick to my profession. I am going to come and start working in the Kurdistan region. As for my compliant, I will file it at the Iraqi Federal High Court. If it is not successful, then I will file a complaint in the international courts. I have confidence in my legal approach and I have Arab and foreign colleagues working with me on this.

Q: What is Tariq Aziz’s situation? Do you predict his sentence will be commuted, particularly as a result of the Western countries’ demands?

Izzat: Let me tell you something that I am revealing for the first time. There were several reasons that made me apologize for defending Tariq Aziz and stop defending him. I will not talk about the reasons here, but I was convinced to take up his case again and continue defending him, particularly in this sensitive period. Tariq Aziz’s family believe they do not need me any longer, as they have said this to some people. However, after the intervention of a number of Western countries and the Vatican, I believe Tariq Aziz’s death sentence will be commuted, but only his, and not those of the other detainees. This might happen through the Court of Appeal. Here I ask both Mr. Jalal Talabani and Barzani to lift the death sentence of some of the other detainees as well. I will soon go to meet with Tariq Aziz.

Q: Do the detainees regret their crimes against the Iraqi people?

Izzat: I cannot answer this question. For professional reasons I cannot address this question.

Q: How do the detainees spend their days in prison?

Izzat: I cannot answer this question either. You may find an answer in my dairies, which are yet to be released. There is some very important confidential information in my diaries. I showed some of this to President Saddam Hussein during my interviews with him. And sections from my diaries deal with several Kurdish leaders in the Kurdistan region, and a number of Arab leaders in the Arab states. The diaries also contain a message that Barzan Tikreti asked me to relay to the Kurdish leaders, but I have not been able to do so yet. It will be in my diaries [when they are released].
 

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