Security


Iraq: Former deputy PM returns to court despite legal complaints




Baghdad, 20 May (AKI) - Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, returned to court in Baghdad on Tuesday as one of his lawyers again questioned the legality of the case against him.

Aziz, considered by many as the international face of Saddam Hussein's regime, is facing charges linked to the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants in 1992.

He is on trial with former defence minister and military commander Ali Hassan al-Majid, who is already on death row after being convicted of other crimes, and six others.

Lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano, who represents Aziz, told Adnkronos International (AKI) he was unable to represent his client without court document detailing the charges.

"I will not participate in that trial," Di Stefano told AKI. "I don't want to grant credibility to the tribunal."

However, Di Stefano disputed media claims that French and Italian lawyers representing Aziz had been refused visas by the Iraqi government.

"That is false," he told AKI. "There is no question as far as I am concerned. I go in and out of Iraq as I please, there is no problem."

If 72-year old Aziz is found guilty, he could face the death penalty or be imprisoned for life. He has denied the charges.

While Aziz returned to court without his defence team, Di Stefano said he was still representing his client and saw him in Baghdad last week.

"He is old and he doesn't understand what this is all about," he said. "He had no knowledge of the incident."

"He is unlikely to be convicted of a serious charge, but he may be found guilty of financial impropriety."

The trial is being conducted by the Iraqi High Tribunal and the judge is the same judge who sentenced Saddam to death in December 2006.

It opened three weeks ago and was immediately adjourned when Aziz asked for a new legal team.

Di Stefano said on Tuesday he had asked the court for an adjournment.


 

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