Whether seen as victim or villain, Tariq Aziz was a witness and actor to the defining points in Iraq’s modern history.
The body of former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has been located, after being snatched from Baghdad International Airport where it was waiting to be flown to Jordan for burial.
The Aziz family lawyer, Badee Aref Ezzat, said on Thursday that the body is now in the government’s possession.
“The government has been able to get the body from the unidentified men who took it. But, we don’t know where the body exactly is right now or what will happen next,” he said.
Reports suggest the body was taken minutes before it was to be loaded on to a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight bound for the capital, Amman, where Aziz’s family intended he be buried.
Aziz, a top aide of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, died last week in prison from a heart attack, and his family had arranged for his body to be transported by Royal Jordanian Airlines to his funeral.
An official at Royal Jordanian Airlines confirmed to Al Jazeera that the flight had left Baghdad without Aziz’s funeral casket onboard. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
The disappearance of the body was also confirmed by the former Iraqi foreign minister’s daughter.
Aziz’s funeral was set to take place in Amman at his own request, and at the request of his son, Ziyad, who believed armed groups would attack his grave if he was buried in his home country.
The former member of Saddam’s Baathist ruling circle spent the last 12 years in prison, after handing himself over to US forces, who invaded in 2003.
Aziz was later sentenced to death for crimes committed under Saddam’s government, but the order was never carried out.