Iraqi archbishop calls death sentence for Tariq Aziz 'an act of vengeance'

Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq has denounced the death sentence imposed upon former Vice Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He called the punishment an “act of vengeance” that “will not help bring about peace.”

Aziz, the country's former deputy prime minister, is also Catholic.

According to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Sako said Aziz’s conviction was “unjust” because everyone in Iraq knows that "he could not oppose the government of Saddam Hussein, since those who dared to express a different opinion were killed.“ Those who are members of an authoritarian government are “trapped,” he continued.

The archbishop underscored that death penalty convictions are acts of vengeance and “signs of the government's weakness.”  He said the new Iraq should prohibit the death penalty “so that the country can truly develop” and move “towards democracy and reconciliation.”

The death penalty is “an offense against the person,” he noted, and the international community has the duty to call on governments to ban it.

The Associated Press reported Nov. 22 that Aziz will seek a presidential pardon rather than appeal the conviction.

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