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Middle East
Saddam deputy's jail term extended
Tareq Aziz's term extended seven years to 22 for role in displacing Kurds.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2009 02:26 GMT

Aziz's lawyers said he spent most of his time outside Iraq and was not involved in atrocities [EPA]

Tareq Aziz, who was Iraq's deputy prime minister under former leader Saddam Hussein, has had his jail term extended by seven years after being convicted for his involvement in the forced displacement of Kurds from the northeast.

Saddam's campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s saw dozens of villages in the oil-rich northeastern region destroyed, thousands of people displaced and children separated from their families.

"Because you committed the crime of forced displacement against the Kurdish people, the court has decided to sentence you to seven years in prison," said Judge Mahmoud Salih.

The Baghdad court's ruling on Sunday is the second conviction for Aziz, who was also foreign minister in Saddam's cabinet.

Saddam was hanged in December 2006 for his role in the killing of Shia Muslims in the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt in 1982.

Aziz was in April sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the execution of Iraqi merchants in 1992 for breaking state price controls, and will now serve a total of 22 years behind bars.

The defence said Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam's mostly Sunni Muslim inner circle, had spent most of his time on diplomatic missions outside Iraq and was not involved in atrocities.

"The verdict against Mr Aziz was a political decision," Badee Izzat Aref, one of his lawyers, said.

Violence

Aziz and other Saddam-era leaders were arrested in 2003 as US-led forces invaded Iraq, but more than six years on, violence continues to plague the country.

On Sunday a car bomb went off at an outdoor market in Haditha northwest of the capital, killing at least five people and wounding more than 30 others.

Iraqi police said an explosives-laden car was parked near roadside vendors at the packed marketplace in western Anbar province.

In another incident, this time in the capital Baghdad, a bomb hidden in a plastic bag near a local official's office killed one civilian and injured three in the district of Azamiyah.

Sunday's incidents are the latest in a series of attacks that have raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to keep the country secure as US troops pull back to outside major urban centres in preparation for a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.

Source:
Agencies
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