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Tariq Aziz dies after heart attack

tariq-460_1746965cbbcbais1-5Tariq Aziz, known as the face of Saddam Hussein’s regime on the world stage for many years, has died in an Iraqi hospital, officials say.

Aziz, 79, served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister and was a close adviser to the former leader.

He was sentenced to death by the Iraqi Supreme Court in 2010 for the persecution of religious parties under Saddam’s rule but was never executed.

He surrendered to US troops in 2003 shortly after the fall of Baghdad.

A local health official told reporters that he was taken to hospital from prison after suffering a heart attack. Initial reports said he had died in prison.

He had long been in poor health, suffering from heart and respiratory problems, high blood pressure and diabetes, and his family repeatedly called for his release from custody.

Aziz, who was known for his black-rimmed glasses and love of cigars, first came to prominence while serving as foreign minister during the first Gulf War in 1991.

As a Christian in a mainly Sunni Muslim government, he was not considered a member of Saddam Hussein’s innermost circle.

A fluent English speaker, he played a vocal role before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, meeting Pope John Paul II in the Vatican to call for peace.

But when Baghdad fell, his lack of influence was reflected in his lowly ranking as the eight of spades in the US military’s famous “deck of cards” used to identify the most-wanted players in Saddam’s regime.

Source: BBC.com</>

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