Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said he will not sign an execution order for Tariq Aziz, the former deputy of Saddam Hussein, who was sentenced to death last month.
Talabani, a Kurd, told French television in an interview that he feels for Aziz "because he is an Iraqi Christian, and also an elderly person who is over 70."
Iraq's supreme criminal court sentenced Aziz to death for the persecution of Islamic parties in late October.
Aged 74 and in poor health, Aziz has been in prison since surrendering in April 2003, a month after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The Vatican and Russia both called on Iraq not to carry out the death sentence on humanitarian grounds.
It was not clear whether Talabani's opposition to signing the death sentence would prevent it from being carried out.
compiled from agency reports