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Middle East
Saddam minister back in Iraqi court
Tariq Aziz, ex-foreign minister, summoned on new charges after handover from US custody.
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2010 21:12 GMT
Aziz appeared in court on Sunday after being handed over to Iraqi authorities by the US [GALLO/GETTY]

Senior members of Saddam Hussein's government, including Tariq Aziz, the former foreign minister, have appeared in an Iraqi court charged with crimes committed during the Saddam era.

The men were summoned to appear in front of the court on Sunday, just days after being transferred from US custody to Iraqi control, Busho Ibrahim, Iraq's deputy justice minister, said.

Aziz, who was the international face of Saddam's government for several years, will face charges of squandering the public wealth, his lawyer said.

Aziz has already been convicted in other trials linked to his time working for Saddam, and has received prison sentences of 15 years and seven years.

Safety fears

He was transferred to Iraqi custody as the US prepared to hand over the last American-run prison in the country.

In depth


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

Aziz's family members have said they are worried that he will not be safe under Iraqi control, claiming that there is a thirst for revenge against Saddam-era officials that will compromise his treatment.

Badee Izzat Aref, who is representing the former minister, said that he had been denied access to his client in jail after his official permission was revoked.  

"The government prevented me on unreasonable grounds. This is a violation of law," Aref said. 

He said authorities told him he could not see his client because Aziz was busy standing trial.

A number of former members of Saddam's administration have been executed since his government was toppled by US-led troops in 2003.

Aziz was the only Christian in Saddam's predominately Sunni Muslim administration, serving as foreign minister and later as deputy prime minister.

He surrendered to US forces a month after the invasion of Iraq began. The US continues to hold eight members of Saddam's government with the acquiensce of the Iraqi government.

Source:
Agencies
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