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[casi] Solving the status of Iraq prioners

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 Thank heaven for elderly french lawyers. f.

Veteran French lawyer prepares for defence of former Iraqi deputy premier

AMMAN (AFP)  Veteran French lawyer Jacques Verges on Thursday voiced
concern for the health of former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz
after meeting his family in Jordan to prepare for his defence.
"I met last night and today with the family of Tareq Aziz. They contacted me
10 days ago to look after his interests and of course I accepted because I
have a lot of respect for him," Verges told AFP in Amman.
"The first course of action I will take is to find out about his health
because he is sick and has heart troubles," Verges said.
"I want to be sure he is treated properly in the secret place where he is
being held" by the US-led coalition, he said. Aziz surrendered to American
forces in April following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
A US military spokesman in Baghdad said in October that Aziz had undertaken
a full physical in September and was in a "stable condition" amid rumours
that he had suffered a heart attack while in custody.
The spokesman said Aziz had suffered one heart attack, but he did not
specify if this was before or after being jailed.
Verges said he would visit Baghdad at an unspecified date but only after he
finds out "exactly what they have against" Aziz, who was also foreign
minister when US-led troops invaded Iraq in March.
"This man was responsible for diplomacy. He was not responsible for the
armed forces or for police operations," Verges said.
"If anything happens to him, I will hold his prison guards responsible," he
Asked if he was ready to defend Saddam who was captured Saturday night by US
troops in northern Iraq, Verges said: "If other people seek my counsel I
would have no reason to refuse."
Verges is a 79-year-old iconoclast with half a century of experience
defending unpopular causes and the likes of Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and
convicted terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Carlos.
More recently he became vice president of the International Committee to
Defend Slobodan Milosevic and represented the former Yugoslav leader in a
suit before the European Court of Human Rights.
Aziz's eldest son, Ziad Aziz, who fled to Jordan with his mother, sister and
brother in April, told AFP that Verges was "a longstanding (family) friend."
He added that he had had no letters from his father, carried by the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), since October 22.
Verges said he will discuss such matters with the ICRC and complain to the
Red Cross and the International Criminal Court (ICC) over "violations"
facing prisoners like Aziz being held by the US-led coalition.
"My course of action ... must benefit all the prisoners because when we
solve the status of Mr Aziz we solve the status of the others," Verges said.
"Prisoners must be treated with dignity and their rights must be respected,"
in line with the Geneva Convention and the Treaty of Rome's ICC, Verges
"The United States did not ratify the Treaty of Rome ... but the European
Union did and countries of the coalition such as Britain, Spain, Italy and
Poland must implement its terms," he added.
"I see violations in the fact that the prisoners are kept in a secret
location and when they are shown in humiliating conditions as they did with
Saddam Hussein," he added.
He also called on the coalition in Iraq to make public the charges against
Aziz and the other prisoners.
"You cannot keep in jail individuals and say they are guilty when there is
no written or precise document in which they are accused of having done this
or that," he said.
Friday-Saturday, December 19-20, 2003

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