Beirut, Asharq al Awsat – In a letter smuggled from prison and published by Asharq al Awsat, Barzan Ibrahim al Tikriti, Saddam Hussein’s half brother, pleaded with Arab leaders to provide him with adequate medical care and revealed he was suffering from cancer of the spine.
In his first court appearance on October 19 on charges of killing 148 Shiaa men in 1982, the Barzan‘s face appeared swollen.
He denied charges against him, in the letter, and insisted he was “an innocent person dragged into a matter that does not concern him, and on which his view is well known”, in reference to disagreements with his half brothers and other pillars of the former regime.
Once the former head of Iraq’s feared Mukhabarat intelligence services, Barzan was relieved from his responsibilities after a family dispute regarding the marriage of Saddam’s daughter Raghd to Hussein Kamel. After a short-lived reconciliation with the former Iraqi dictator, Barzan represented his country at the UN in Geneva for 12 years before returning to Baghdad in September 1999 as part of a diplomatic reshuffle.
He maintained an uneasy relationship with the former dictator because of his opposition to the far-ranging influence enjoyed by Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay.
Asharq al Awsat has published unedited extracts from the letter:
“Tests conducted in prison have concluded I am suffering from cancer of the spine with no proper treatment available here. Others have already died of cancer while in detention and others died shortly after being released.
I plead to President Bush, in the name of justice and the principles of democracy and human rights defended by the United States, to look into my humanitarian situation and order my release so I can receive treatment for this dangerous illness. I also plead to British Prime Minister [Tony Blair] in the name of justice which represents the values of the United Kingdom and its history to intervene with the allies and release me. I also beg the memory of King Abdulaziz represented by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s courageous and well-known values and principles and the brotherly links that tie me to his Royal Highness to intervene and save the life of his brother and friend to ensure I receive the necessary treatment.
I plead to President Jalal Talabani in the name of the friendship that binds us, which he announced in 1996 in Ankara in front of television cameras when he indicated he was traveling to Geneva to visit a friend [Barzan Ibrahim al Tikriti,]to work to save the life of his friend who has suffered much because of his opinions.
I urge Prime Minister [Ibrahim] al Jaafari, in the name of the principles and justice of our ancestor Imam Ali, to intervene to find a solution to my humanitarian case.
I appeal to the humanity of all free and kind individuals in the Arab world and beyond from leaders to prominent figures, especially the head of the International Committee for the Red Cross to intervene to save the life of an innocent man.“