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Aziz bargains deal with US

Saddam's former deputy PM who surrendered to US forces has decided to spill all the beans about the Iraqi regime, but at a price.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2003 15:09 IST

Saddam Hussein's former deputy Prime Minister who surrendered to US forces on Thursday has decided to spill all the beans about the Iraqi regime, but at a price.

The schemer has told his US captors he will reveal all in exchange for a new identity and cushy life in UK. Cigar-smoking Aziz, 67, was Saddam's best-known mouthpiece and condemned the UK. Now he wants to live here because he is terrified of being executed by Iraqis and is desperate to dodge US strict justice, reports The Sun.

Aziz, who gave himself up on Thursday, is the most senior Saddam aide caught so far. Human rights groups last on Friday said: "The guy is a murderous scumbag and we don't want him here. He has got the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands."

The Iraqi Community Association, representing 250,000 Iraqis who fled to Britain, condemned any deal. Spokesman Hashim Ali was quoted by The Sun as saying: "It is unthinkable that Aziz gains protection in this country. He is a nasty, murderous man."

Within hours of his capture in Baghdad, Aziz - a top member of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council - hinted to US forces about his knowledge of weapons, crimes against humanity and Saddam's last-known whereabouts.

He even threw the name of Labour MP George Galloway - accused of being on the Iraqi payroll - into the conversation.

An insider said: "Aziz has made it clear he is ready for a total sell-out. He knows we are anxious to retrieve this information and is playing hard-to-get. He has his price and he's sticking out for it.

"He is trying to do a deal to get himself off the hook. Aziz is a walking goldmine of information about Saddam and the regime - and he knows it. "He sees his knowledge as an insurance policy which he is now trying to cash in to buy himself out of jail."

First Published: Apr 26, 2003 15:09 IST