[JURIST] Former Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz [BBC news profile; JURIST news archive] has suffered a severe stroke while in detention, his son Ziad Aziz said Sunday. Aziz, who also suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, was taken to an American hospital for treatment and is now said to be in stable condition, though he is paralyzed and unable to speak. His health has been poor since his arrest by American forces in 2003, and his family, who are Catholic, have lobbied the pope for his release [AP report]. Aziz still faces charges from the current Iraq government, which has refused to delay proceedings against him [NYT report] to wait for his recovery.
Aziz was convicted [JURIST report] in August of displacing Kurds during the 1980s. The sentence extended Aziz's prison term to a total of 22 years following a March conviction [JURIST report] for his involvement in the 1992 murders of 42 merchants accused of price-gouging during UN-imposed sanctions. Prior to his March conviction, Aziz was acquitted of charges [JURIST report] in connection with the 1999 killing of protesters who rioted in Baghdad and Amarah following the alleged assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr.