Tariq Aziz Dies in Prison

Tariq Aziz Dies in PrisonTariq Aziz Dies in Prison

Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, has died in prison aged 79 years old.

Iraqi officials said Aziz, who was one of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s top deputies, died on Friday afternoon after suffering a heart attack on Thursday, AlJazeera reported late Friday.  Al Jazeera said Aziz’s son, Ziad, expressed outrage that Iraqi officials had not informed him of his father’s death, and he had instead found out through local media reports. Aziz was Iraq’s foreign minister between 1983 and 1991 and deputy prime minister between 1979 and 2003. Born Mikhail Yuhanna in 1936, Aziz was the highest ranking Christian official under Saddam’s presidency and a member of the former ruling Baath Party’s inner circle.

He was sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal in 2010 for his role in human-rights abuses committed under the former government, which was overthrown in 2003 when Iraq was invaded by a US-led alliance.

Aziz surrendered to US forces shortly after the invasion and had been a prisoner since. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said Aziz was one of the most hated figures from the old regime and Iraqi TV stations had largely ignored his death.

“There will be no eulogies for him, no day of mourning for him. He was hated as a member of the former regime,” he said.

One of the best known faces of Saddam’s Iraq, Aziz travelled globally where he defended his leader from the many allegations of abuses he was accused of.

When the US prepared for its campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait prior to the first Gulf War, Aziz hit out at Arab states, calling them “subservient Arab weaklings”.