Friday, August 19, 2005

Iraq - Tariq Aziz To Be Freed?

That's what The Scotsman is reporting.

THE lawyer of Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, yesterday claimed his client was to be released from jail without being put on trial.

Aziz, a Christian, is jailed along with Saddam Hussein and other senior members of the Baath Party overthrown by United States forces in April 2003.

Badia Aref, who saw Aziz on Tuesday during a visit to the jail near Baghdad, said: "I expect he will be set free soon, but not within days."

Is this another sign that Saddam's trial is about to start?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein could go on trial as early as next month [Aug 2005] for his alleged role in a massacre 23 years ago, a top judge said Wednesday. He said the ousted dictator could face the death penalty.

Raid Juhi, chief judge of the Iraq Special Tribunal, said the investigation into the July 8, 1982 massacre in Dujail, a predominantly Shiite village 50 miles north of Baghdad, is complete.

Still, even if Aziz has turned states evidence against Saddam, it's hard to see the Iraqi's letting Aziz go until after the trial and appeals.

Reuters has more.

Aref said he had been getting more access to Aziz from U.S. authorities in the last few weeks, and that legal developments he was not able to disclose had made him expect Aziz would be released soon.

"There are several legal elements that have emerged from the interrogations that have made me form an almost complete conviction that Aziz would be freed soon," Aref said.

No charges have yet been brought publicly against Aziz, who Aref said had been questioned by the U.S. military exhaustively in 152 sessions.

This follows the report last week that Aziz held a phone conversation with his family for the first time in over two years.

In that report Aziz was reported to have said he will not testify against Saddam.

Is the US giving up on Aziz or is Aziz too sick to carry on? Who knows?

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