London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ziad Tarek Aziz, son of Iraq’s former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has stated that the current Iraqi government has “vengeful motives” against his father. Tariq Aziz was famously nicknamed the Iraqi ‘engineer of diplomacy’.
The son stated that the US administration “does not want to release Aziz because he is privy to many American-Iraqi relations, which the Americans fear could be exposed.”
“The Iraqi government has not, and will not, put my father on trial in court anytime soon for lack of any real charges against him. There is no real evidence to incriminate him. He will continue to be neglected medically, especially since he is elderly (71 years old) and suffers many ailments,” he added.
A spokesman for the Supreme Criminal Court in Iraq for the trial of officials from the former regime told Asharq Al-Awsat that, “Tariq Aziz was handed over in accordance with Article 12 of the Iraqi High Criminal Court Law on the charges of crimes against humanity, which include the bloody suppression of the 1991 uprising in the central Euphrates area.”
“Attempts made for his release are a political matter that the court has nothing to do with,” he pointed out.
The spokesman who agreed to speak under condition of anonymity said that, “Like the rest of the detainees from the former regime, Tariq Aziz is held at al Matar Prison [also known as the ‘Victoria Prison’ named after the area it is located in], and his family has visitation rights but I believe that none of his family members have to come to visit.”
He indicated that, “there is a special committee for the detainees that is comprised of five ministries, in addition to the Prime Minister’s office and a number of multinational forces. This committee is entitled with overseeing the lives and affairs of the detainees.”
Meanwhile, Ziad Aziz told Asharq al-Awsat from his home in Amman yesterday that, “all humanitarian and diplomatic campaigns launched for the sake of releasing my father for health and humane reasons, since he is not guilty of any crimes against Iraqis and who was the one to turn himself in, are always met with either American prevention or the so-called democratic Iraqi government’s charges against my father.”
“The only real accusation that my father is guilty of is his love of Iraq and his concern for the country and its people and his affiliation and loyalty to the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. I challenge the government to bring forward any real charge against my father,” he said.
He added that the US forces tried to negotiate his father’s release by buying his silence but he refused. Ziad also expressed his surprise that the interrogator asked his father (last Tuesday 3rd July) “about the location of the nuclear weapons that had been manufactured during Saddam’s regime. Can you imagine? The interrogator asked my father 12 questions about the location of the weapons. If Britain, the US and the whole world did not find any nuclear weapons in Iraq and the case has been closed since, then how will my father, whose duty was diplomatic and cultural matters, know the location of weapons that do not exist in the first place?” he said.
In response to the accusations leveled against Tariq Aziz for his participation in the suppression of the 1991 uprising, his son said, “My father was away during this time on a political assignment abroad serving Iraq. Besides, he was never a military man and had no connection with the security authorities that would have enabled him to be part of the suppression. Moreover, the decision to suppress the uprising was not a decision in which the Iraqi government collectively participated in, or contributed to and neither was [the decision] signed and approved by all the ministers. There were direct and personal orders between [ex-] President Saddam Hussein and those close to him from the senior military personnel and the security forces. We never once heard that Tariq Aziz had been involved in any of these acts and there is no document bearing my father’s signature that attests that he participated in any crime.”
Regarding his father’s health, he said, “My father’s health is extremely critical and there is no medical care, except for a GP [at the prison]. Can you imagine that my father remained without a set of dentures for over eight months? His glasses are broken and he cannot see without them. He wrote me his prescription and I will send him a pair of glasses through the Red Cross.” He added that, “There is no medical or psychological care; they are torturing him psychologically,” he stated.
Concerning the allegations that his family does not visit, Ziad said, “How can we visit him when al Matar [prison] is under the Interior Ministry’s control? It is the same ministry whose members want to get rid of my father and his family. We requested the protection of the US forces so that they grant us the treatment reserved for lawyers, namely a secure visit, but they refused. Furthermore, my father has also stressed that we must not let my mother or sister visit so that they don’t get subjected to any danger, and you know what I mean.”
He added that, “The prison administration allows my father a 30-minute call over a month, and he has split the minutes so that he has three 10-minute slots every Wednesday.”
He added that his father, “Requests medicine, clothes and cigarettes. I sent him 30 packs of Marlboros but the Americans took 20 and only gave him 10 packs,” he said.
When asked who accompanied his father in jail, he said, “he had Barzan al Tikriti, Awad al Bandar and Taha Yassin Ramadan but they have all been executed. The only one that remains with him is Jamal, Saddam’s son-in-law and Hala’s, the youngest of Saddam’s daughters, husband. He revealed that “they had released Saadoun Hammadi, who is now in Germany because he is Shia, while they do not want to release my father because he is Christian.”