Brussels: The European Parliament urged
Iraq on Thursday to drop a death sentence against Saddam-era
minister Tareq Aziz, warning that killing him would "do little
to improve the climate of violence."
The parliament adopted a resolution reiterating its
opposition to the death penalty in all cases, including war
crimes and genocide, and called it "the ultimate cruel,
inhuman and degrading punishment."
Executing Aziz, 74, "will do little to improve the
climate of violence in Iraq" when the country "is in dire need
of national reconciliation," the resolution says.
The parliament, however, acknowledged "the importance
of holding accountable those who violate human rights,
including (former) politicians, in the framework of the rule
of law and due process."
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said last week that he
would not sign the execution order against Aziz, who served as
deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein.
But the EU parliament noted that the Iraqi
constitution includes "mechanisms for executions to be carried
out on parliamentary authority."
Aziz was handed the death penalty on October 26 for
the suppression of Shiite religious parties in the 1980s, and
is also on trial for a crackdown on Iraqi Kurds, of which
Talabani is one.
Iraq`s supreme criminal court found the long-time
international face of former president Saddam Hussein`s regime
guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity,"
sentencing him to death.
In poor health and among Saddam`s few surviving top
cohorts, Aziz has been in prison since surrendering in April
2003, shortly after the fall of Baghdad in the US-led invasion