Mr. Talabani, a Kurd himself, has said he will not sign off on Aziz’s death warrant, given his old age and the fact that he is a Christian. But there are ways in Iraq’s constitution to bypass the president in capital cases, and it is not clear whether Mr. Talabani even has the authority to grant Aziz a pardon.
Several European nations that oppose the death penalty also have called for amnesty for Aziz.
After the verdicts were read, tribunal Chief Judge Nadhum al-Aboudi told reporters that Aziz should not be singled out for better treatment simply because he is Christian.
“The court does not look at the religion or the nationality or sect of the person,” said an obviously irritated Chief Judge al-Aboudi. “Some ask why Tariq Aziz got the death penalty, which they consider a prosecution against Christians. The court is an independent body. … Tariq Aziz is an Iraqi man, and our laws are implemented upon all Iraqis.”
Mr. di Stefano said Aziz should be released after already having served more than seven years in prison. He also said he will sue the U.S. government for reneging on what he called an agreement approved by former U.S. President George W. Bush to release Aziz after being questioned about the Saddam regime as a condition of his 2003 surrender to American forces in Iraq.
AP reporters Lara Jakes and Saad Abdul-Kadir in Baghdad and Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.
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