BAGHDAD, (AFP) – An Iraqi court official on Sunday denied a family claim that ailing former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, sentenced to death last week, had begun a hunger strike.
The information about Tareq Aziz is not accurate. He did not start a hunger strike,” said Mohammed Abdul Sahab, spokesman for Iraq’s supreme criminal court that had handed down the death sentence.
“He is in good health and will continue the other judicial cases,” Sahab told AFP.
Aziz was given the death penalty for a crackdown on Shiite religious parties in the 1980s, and is also on trial for a crackdown on Iraqi Kurds.
Aziz’s son said on Friday that his father had began a hunger strike the previous day.
“My father and 25 other prisoners have been on a hunger strike since yesterday (Thursday),” Ziad Aziz said in the Jordanian capital Amman where he lives.
“They are protesting because they could not receive the only monthly visit from friends and relatives set for the last Friday of each month,” he said.
On Tuesday, Iraq’s supreme criminal court found the long-time international face of the Saddam Hussein regime guilty of “deliberate murder and crimes against humanity,” sentencing him to death.
The verdict provoked a wave of appeals for clemency from around the world, including from rights groups, the European Union, Russia and the Vatican.
Sahab said that Aziz had one month to lodge an appeal, but so far had not done so.
Aged 74 and in poor health, Aziz has been in prison since surrendering in April 2003, a month after the US-led invasion of Iraq.