Russian lawmakers denounce Aziz death sentence

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Russian lawmakers on Wednesday denounced the death sentence imposed on former Iraqi deputy premier Tareq Aziz after he was convicted on charges of murder and crimes against humanity.

"What has happened in Iraq is the elimination of a witness and a settling of accounts between different religions, not a victory for justice," Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house, the Federation Council, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"Nothing can justify this sentence," he added.

"We will... call on the international community and parliamentarians in Europe and the United States to prevent this assassination," the head of Russia's Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, was quoted as saying by Interfax, describing Aziz as "a very sick old man."

Iraq's supreme criminal court imposed the death sentence on Aziz, the long-time international face of the Saddam Hussein regime, on Tuesday after finding him guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity".

Aziz turned himself in to US forces in April 2003, days after the fall of Baghdad and was sentenced to death along with two other pillars of the former Iraqi regime, former interior minister Saadoun Shaker and Abid Hmoud, a one-time aide to Saddam.

© 2010 AFP

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