[JURIST] Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, has denied that Iraq used the UN oil-for-food program to extort billions of dollars according to lawyer Badih Aref, speaking Friday for Aziz after having been allowed to meet him for the first time Thursday in Baghdad. Aref quoted Aziz as saying:
We used to offer assistance to parties, institutions and states that stood by Iraq. We helped them via the United Nations because the oil-for-food program was a legitimate program supervised by the UN. This cannot be considered bribery because it was our right to sell oil to those who wanted it and we could not affect the price at all, as it was set by the United Nations itself.
Speculation had abounded that Aziz was preparing to testify against Saddam Hussein, but Aziz has now denied these rumors. Reuters has more.