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Tariq Aziz not suffering life threatening condition

Ex-Iraqi deputy premier Tariq Aziz, whose lawyers are seeking his release from US military custody in Baghdad on medical grounds, is not suffering a life threatening condition, a top Iraqi official said on Friday.
By Associated Press | None, Baghdad
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2006 03:37 AM IST

Ex-Iraqi deputy premier Tariq Aziz, whose lawyers are seeking his release from US military custody in Baghdad on medical grounds, is not suffering a life threatening condition, a top Iraqi official said on Friday.

Lawyers for Aziz, 69, appealed this month for the former Saddam Hussein regime figure to be freed because of his ailing health condition and asked Italy and Croatia to consider granting him asylum.

The call followed a similar plea by relatives of Aziz, a Christian, to Pope Benedict XVI to intervene with American authorities for his release claiming his health had deteriorated drastically.

But Iraqi Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim Ali said Aziz's health condition was "not life-threatening" and did not warrant grounds for release from prison.

"Aziz was a diabetic and had high blood pressure before the war," said Ali, who visited Aziz today in his tiny cell on a US military base called Camp Cropper in Baghdad. "We all suffer from diabetes and blood pressure. They are not life-threatening diseases."

Aziz was arrested after Saddam's regime was toppled in 2003 and is being held by US forces under agreement with the Iraqi government.

One of the lawyers, Badee Izzat Aref, said this week that Aziz "is in his last days" and appealed to US President George W. Bush, Human Rights Watch and the Red Crescent to release Aziz.

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