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Hussein aide Tariq Aziz sentenced to hang

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By Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — The international face of Saddam Hussein's regime, Tariq Aziz, was sentenced to death by hanging Tuesday for persecuting Shiites just over three months after the Americans transferred him to Iraqi government custody.

Iraqi High Tribunal spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Sahib did not say when the 74-year-old former foreign minister would go to the gallows. Aziz has 30 days to launch an appeal.

Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam's mainly Sunni inner circle, was wearing a blue suit and sat alone in the court. He bowed his head and frequently grasped the handrail in front of him, as the judge read out the verdict.

His Jordan-based lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref, accused the government of orchestrating the verdict to divert attention from recent revelations about prisoner abuse by Iraqi security forces contained in U.S. military documents released last week by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

"We are discussing this issue and what next step we should take," Aref told The Associated Press in Amman, the Jordanian capital. "This sentence is not fair and it is politically motivated."


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