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US hands over former deputy premier to Iraq

world Updated: Jul 14, 2010 20:53 IST

US forces handed over Iraq's former deputy premier Tareq Aziz and 54 other members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle to the Iraqi authorities, regional news network al-Arabiya reported on Wednesday.

The report comes a day ahead of the scheduled transfer of Camp Cropper, the last US-run detention facility in the country where Aziz and the other prisoners were held, to the Iraqi authorities.

Aziz, the international face of the Saddam regime, had served as both foreign minister and deputy prime minister.

He turned himself over to US forces following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In 2009, Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder, and seven years for his role in expelling ethnic Kurds from northern Iraq.

Aziz's lawyer and family have called for his release on grounds of his health problems. The 73-year-old Aziz has reportedly suffered two heart attacks since 2003.

On Thursday, when Iraqi security forces take control of Camp Cropper, the US will have handed over around 1,600 prisoners to the Iraqi authorities, al-Arabiya reported.

The handover of the facility is part of the US plan to reduce its presence in the country to 50,000 troops by the end of August.