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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] 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 said. 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 said. "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 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk