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Former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz dies in prison

Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, has died in prison aged 79 years old.

Aziz, served as the foreign minister  between 1983 and 1991 and deputy prime minister between 1979 and 2003 in Saddam Hussein’s regime, in 2010 he had been sentenced to death by the Iraqi supreme court for the persecution of religious parties. He had given himself up to authorities in 2003 after the US led invasion of Iraq.

Iraqi officials said Aziz died on Friday afternoon after suffering a heart attack on Thursday.

Born Mikhail Yuhanna in 1936, Aziz was the highest ranking Christian official under Saddam’s presidency and a member of the former ruling Baath Party’s inner circle. As the only Christian of Saddam’s entourage, he was a useful envoy for a secular regime, as well as an outsider.

He had long been in poor health, suffering from heart and respiratory problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. He had been taken to hospital from prison after suffering a heart attack in prison.

By Fiona Carty

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