Tariq Aziz’s Trial Begins
As a brief follow-up to Sonya’s post, it’s worth noting that the IHT began trying Tariq Aziz, Saddam’s deputy prime minister and the highest ranking Christian in Saddam’s regime, earlier this week:
Iraq’s former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, was known as the ‘Ace of Spades’ in the United States’ deck of playing cards of Iraq’s most wanted.
But he was better-known as the regime’s moderate public face, who fronted the cameras in the days before the US invasion with his trademark black-rimmed glasses and Cuban cigars.
Aziz has now gone on trial in Iraq on genocide charges, accused of approving the execution of scores of business people while the country was under economic sanctions.
He has been in US custody for the last five years and if he is found guilty, he could face death by hanging.
The 72-year-old entered the courtroom with a walking stick, looking frail and weak.
He and seven others are on trial for executing 42 Baghdad merchants in 1992, who were accused of raising food prices at a time when Iraq was facing stiff UN economic sanctions.
Judge Rahim Hassan al-U’kaili says Aziz and his seven co-defendants will be charged with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
“Tariq Aziz didn’t have any role in the issue of the execution of merchants,” he said.
“However, his participation in the issuance of two resolutions which stipulated the following – each one who monopolises foodstuffs for commercial purposes should be executed, and his portable and non-portable properties should be confiscated.”
Although I haven’t examined the case against Aziz in any detail, the genocide charges are puzzling. The victims were merchants executed (almost certainly illegally) for price-gouging. So where is the specific intent to destroy a racial, ethnic, national, or religious group?