Son of ex-Iraqi FM Tariq Aziz says father suffers severe stroke in prison, loses speechBy AP
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Ex-Iraqi FM Tariq Aziz suffers from a stroke
AMMAN, Jordan — Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz was afflicted by a severe stroke over the weekend and has lost the power of speech, his son said Sunday.
Tariq Aziz was the international face of Saddam Hussein’s regime for several years. He was convicted and sentenced to prison for his involvement in the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq and the deaths of Baghdad merchants in the early 1990s.
Ziad Aziz told The Associated Press that his 73-year-old father had a stroke on Friday and was rushed to a hospital in Balad, about 40 miles north of the capital Baghdad.
“He fell to the floor in his jail cell and we were told afterwards that he lost his speech completely,” he said, adding that the family had contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross for more details.
Aziz’s lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref, confirmed he had been hospitalized with a stroke and the U.S. military in Baghdad said they would investigate the report.
The son criticized the Iraqi government for the continued detention of his father.
“The Iraqi government insists on the mockery of keeping a sick old man in jail,” Ziad Aziz said. “We’ve been telling them that his health has deteriorated severely since the first stroke he had before the war in 2003.”
“We’ve repeatedly asked that he be released on humanitarian grounds,” he said. The family — Christian Catholics — has appealed to the Vatican to intervene on Aziz’s behalf.
Ziad Aziz said his father had diabetes and high blood pressure, but his health took a turn for the worst shortly before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.