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Former Saddam-Era Minister Tariq Aziz Dies

Tariq Aziz (file photo)
Tariq Aziz (file photo)

Tariq Aziz, a top official during the reign of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, has died in a hospital in Iraq at the age of 79.

Aziz, a close adviser of Hussein, served as foreign minister from 1983-1991 and deputy prime minister from 1979-2003.

He surrendered to U.S. forces in 2003 and had reportedly been in poor health for several years while imprisoned.

Adel Abdulhussein al-Dakhili, the deputy governor of the Dhi Qar Province where Aziz was jailed, said he died in the Hussein Teaching Hospital in the city of Nasiriyah, where he was brought after falling ill.

Aziz, a Christian who was born named Mikhail Yuhanna, first met Hussein in the 1950s as an activist for the Ba'ath Party.

He was found guility in 2009 of ordering several executions and for forcibly relocating Kurds.

Aziz was sentenced to death in 2010 after being found guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity" but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani refused to sign Aziz's execution order.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and BBC

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