Tareq Aziz, the former prime minister of Iraq, the nation’s former second man under Saddam Hussein’s rule, was sentenced to 15 years in jail Wednesday.
Iraq’s top court ruled that Aziz and seven other officials of the previous Iraqi regime were involved in the slaughter of 42 vendors in 1992. Iraqi authorities decided to execute the vendors for their speculative prices on essential goods under the conditions of the international economic blockade, Itar-Tass reports.
Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison. He already has three death sentences to serve. The last one of them was brought down on March 2 for the killing of Shiites in 1999. Al-Majid was sentenced to death for the use of chemical weapons during Anfal counterinsurgency operation in 1998, in which tens of thousands of Kurds were killed. Another death sentence was brought down against him for the suppression of Shiite riots in 1991.
It became the fifth trial over the officials of the former Iraqi regime.
Tareq Aziz was a close advisor of former President Saddam Hussein for decades. Their association began in the 1950s, when both were Ba'ath party activists, while the party was still officially banned.
Since Saddam Hussein was both Prime Minister and President of Iraq, Aziz often played the role of Iraq 's de facto head of government. Because of security concerns, Hussein rarely left Iraq, and Aziz in turn would often represent Iraq at high-level diplomatic summits. What the United States wanted, he averred, was not "regime change" in Iraq but rather "region change". He summed up the Bush Administration's reasons for war against Iraq tersely: "oil and Israel ."
Aziz is currently in prison in Camp Cropper in western Baghdad, at the direction of the United States government.
A first cousin of former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, he became notorious in the 1980s and 1990s for his role in the Iraqi government's campaigns against internal opposition forces, namely from its ethnic Kurdish rebels of the north, and the Shia religious dissidents of the south. Al-Majid was captured following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.