US denies Tariq Aziz death reports

The US military has said it has absolute confirmation that Tariq Aziz, Iraq's former deputy prime minister, is still alive.

    Aziz has been in detention since his surrender in April 2003

    "I can absolutely confirm that he is still alive," Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnston, spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq, said on Saturday, after reports on Arab television stations that he had died.

    "He was alive five minutes ago," he said at about 0310 pm (1210 GMT). 

    Dubai-based al-Arabiya television said Aziz had died in custody, quoting sources in the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq. 

    Vatican confirmation

    Al-Arabiya did not immediately give more details, but Aljazeera quoted sources at the Vatican as confirming the death of Aziz, who was the only Christian member of Saddam's cabinet. 

    "We cannot confirm the death of Tariq Aziz. We have no information on the matter"

    Red Cross spokeswoman

    One of 55 former Iraqi officials posted on a most-wanted list by US-led forces after their invasion, Aziz, 68, surrendered in April last year and has been in US custody since then. 

    In Amman a spokeswoman for the Red Cross said: "We cannot confirm the death of Tariq Aziz. We have no information on the matter."

    Meanwhile, Aziz's son told a contact in Rome his father was alive, the Italian news agency Ansa said. 

    The son, Ziad, got in touch with a French monk and friend of the family, Jean Marie Benjamin, from Amman to say his father was still alive, Ansa added. 

    Benjmain is understood to have good contacts with the family.

    If he is indeed alive, it will be the second time that Aziz has wrongly been reported killed. In March 2003 reports saying he had been shot dead while trying to enter the Kurdish north of the country were quashed when he appeared on TV to tell the world he was alive and well.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Death from above: Every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Death from above: Every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.