The Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad sentenced Saddam Hussein’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, to 10 years in prison for his role in the regime’s crimes against Kurds, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television reported.
At least three co-defendants received the death penalty during today’s sentencing for participating in the “liquidation and displacement” of Shiite Muslim Faili Kurds from 1980 to 1988, al-Iraqiyah said. Charges against Hussein’s half-brothers, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and Watban Ibrahim, were dropped.
It was the fourth set of charges against Aziz, 74, who was sentenced last month to hang in a case that linked him to the persecution of Shiite parties. Aziz was the eight of spades in a deck of cards issued by the U.S. to portray the most-wanted regime leaders after the 2003 invasion that ousted Hussein.
Aziz’s defense team is pushing for their client to be spared the death penalty. On Nov. 17, President Jalal Talabani said he won’t ratify the execution order. According to Iraq’s constitution, the president can only grant pardons with the “recommendation” of the prime minister.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a Shiite who went into hiding in the 1970s after Hussein started cracking down on Shiite political leaders opposed to his rule.
Talabani is a Kurd from northern Iraq, where Hussein tried to quash the predominantly Sunni Muslim Kurds’ claims to the city of Kirkuk through their forced removal and the settlement of Sunni Arabs.
In March 1988, Hussein unleashed a chemical attack on the northern city of Halabja, part of the so-called Anfal campaign against a Kurdish rebellion that began during the Iran-Iraq War. As many as 180,000 Kurds were killed in the north from 1987 to 1988, New York-based Human Rights Watch has said.
The High Tribunal sentenced Aziz and Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali,” to 15 years in prison in March 2009 for crimes against humanity in the killing of Baghdad merchants in the 1990s. Al-Majid was hanged on Jan. 25 for his role in poisonous-gas attacks on Iraqi Kurds.
Aziz surrendered shortly after the invasion and was held in a U.S.-run prison before being handed over to Iraqi authorities in July as part of the Obama administration’s phased pullout of American forces.
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