Saddam Hussein's Former Deputy Tariq Aziz Sentenced to Death in Iraq

Aziz rose to prominence during first Gulf War as Iraq's foreign minister; convicted of persecution of Islamic parties.

Iraq's high tribunal on Tuesday passed a death sentence on Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein's most prominent deputies, over the persecution of Islamic parties, the court's media office said.

Tareq Aziz- AP- Oct. 8. 2002
Tareq Aziz (left) in Damascus Oct. 8, 2002AP

The death sentence was the first to be handed to Aziz, who was the face of Saddam's government in foreign capitals and at the United Nations. He rose to prominence at the time of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War when he was foreign minister.

Aziz's son said later on Tuesday that the death sentence handed down to his father for  was a politically motivated ruling.

"My father has never had any relationship with religious parties in Iraq," Ziad Aziz said from Jordan, where he lives.

"In fact, he was a victim, when the Dawa Party attempted to assassinate him," said the younger Aziz, calling the ruling "political and not judicial."

The Dawa party, a Shiite grouping now headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was accused in 1980 of throwing a grenade at Aziz.

In December 2006 Saddam Hussein was executed after being convicted of crimes against humanity by an Iraqi court for the killing of 148 Shi'ite men and boys following a 1982 assassination attempt.