Iraq’s newly re-elected President Jalal Talabani is refusing to sign an execution order for Tareq Aziz.
His apparent decision follows both the Vatican and Russia’s call not to carry out the death penalty on humanitarian grounds because of the ex-Iraqi foreign minister’s age and health problems.
The 70 year-old deputy to former dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced last month by a court over his role in the persecution of Islamic parties under the regime.
Speaking in Paris, Talabani said he would not sign the death warrant. The Kurdish party leader also said he sympathised with Aziz, saying he was an old man and a Christian.
Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether President Talabani’s opposition will be enough to prevent the order from being carried out. In 2006, despite Talabani’s apparent refusal, Iraqi authorities did execute Saddam Hussein.