Tariq Aziz appeals to Holy Father

 The lawyer of Saddam Hussein's former foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, has appealed to Pope Benedict to seek his release this Christmas.

Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic, was often seen as the international spokesman for Saddam Hussein. He has been held in a jail near Baghdad airport since 2003.

His lawyer, Badye Arif, told AKI news agency: "Aziz detention status is not based on any law and there are no real charges against him. He allegedly suffers from various diseases and is now 72 years old. For this reason, his detention represents a risk to his health."

Under the controversial SOFA security pact agreed between Iraq and the United States, Iraqi detainees in US custody are due to be handed over to Iraqi authorities by the end of the year. Some of the detainees are former high ranking Iraqi officials from the Saddam era. It is not yet clear what will happen to them.

However, Arif is afraid Aziz might be "eliminated in the Iraqi jail where he will be transferred to."

"We found out that last Sunday, 18 detainees who were in the American jail where Aziz is being held, were transferred to the al-Athimiya detention centre," Arif told AKI.

Source: AKI

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