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Trial of Saddam-era former Iraq deputy PM to begin next week

[JURIST] The trial of former Saddam Hussein-era Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and six others will begin next week, an Iraqi judicial official said Wednesday. The seven former officials face charges related to the 1992 execution of 42 merchants accused by Hussein's government of causing a sharp increase in food prices at a time when the United Nations had placed Iraq under strict sanctions. Judge Raouf Abdul-Rahman [BBC profile], who presided over Hussein's 2006 trial [JURIST news archive] and sentenced Hussein to death [JURIST report], will preside over the trial of Aziz and his co-defendants. AP has more.

Last July, Aziz threatened to go on a hunger strike [JURIST report] if Iraqi authorities did not allow Aziz's preferred lawyer, Badih Aref Izzat, to enter Iraq and be present during interrogations. Aziz has had several health problems [JURIST report] while in US and Iraqi custody, the most recent of which took him to a US military Hospital last July. In March 2007, Aziz was brought before the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] to testify against six defendants accused of genocide in the Anfal trial [BBC trial timeline; JURIST news archive]. He instead denied [JURIST report] that Hussein's government had ever carried out any attacks.

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