Middle East
Tariq Aziz suffers severe stroke
Ex-aide to Saddam Hussein in serious condition following stroke in jail.
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2010 16:17 GMT

Aziz was convicted in March of crimes against humanity for the killing of 42 merchants [AFP]

Tariq Aziz, Iraq's former deputy prime minister, has been hospitalised after suffering a severe stroke. 

Ziad, Tariq Aziz's son, said on Sunday that his father had lost the ability to speak after falling ill on Friday.

He was rushed to a hospital in Balad, north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad on Thursday.

"He fell to the floor in his jail cell and we were told afterwards that he lost his speech completely," his son told the Associated Press news agency.

'Condition serious'

Badie Aref, Aziz's lawyer, confirmed the report.

"His condition is serious and they will decide today whether he stays in hospital or should be returned to Camp Cropper," Aref told the AFP news agency, referring to a US-run prison where Aziz has been detained.

In depth

 Profile: Tariq Aziz  
 Video: Ex-Saddam aide gets 15 years

Lieutenant Colonel Pat Johnson, a spokesman for the US army in Iraq, said Aziz's condition was "improving but he is still being closely monitored".

Iraq's highest court sentenced Aziz and Ali Hassan al-Majid, a power-broker in Saddam Hussein's former government, to 15 years in jail last March.

The pair were convicted of crimes against humanity in regards to the killing of 42 Baghdad merchants in 1992.

Al-Majid and Aziz are also among 16 former officials on trial for a violent campaign against Shia Kurds.

They are accused of gassing members of the Fayli Kurdish community as part of a chemical weapons testing programme during Iraq's war with neighbouring Iran from 1980 to 1988.

Aziz surrendered to US forces in April 2003 after Saddam Hussein's government was overthrown.

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