Saddam Hussein's most powerful deputy, Tariq Aziz, was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court Tuesday morning for being personally involved in the killing of members of Shia Islamic religious parties after the first Gulf war.
Aziz, Iraq's former deputy prime minister and long-term face to the world, was condemned along with four other men, all of whom had been accused of persecuting and killing members of the Shia-dominated Dawa party, which was the main opposition group to Saddam during the 24 years he ruled Iraq.
Aziz, 74, was handed over by US forces to Iraqi custody this year. He was listed as number 25 on George Bush's infamous deck of cards – a hitlist of regime figures who the invading US military had planned to kill or capture.
His family described the death sentence as a “travesty” and said the court that convicted him was like a theatre.
The sentence was confirmed by Mohammed Abdul Sahab, the chief judge of Iraq's high criminal court, who told the Guardian Aziz may face further death sentences in the coming days and weeks.
Aziz had previously been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the deaths of 42 merchants who had been accused of manipulating food prices. He received a second seven-year sentence relating to the forced displacement of Kurds from northern Iraq.
The latest trial started on 16 August this year. Judge Mohammed al-Hassan handed down Tuesday's death sentence.