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Aziz sentenced to 15 years


Tariq Aziz, who once represented Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to the world, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for his involvement in the 1992 killing of 42 merchants accused of price fixing.

The court found Aziz guilty of premeditated murder and crimes against humanity. It was the first conviction for the one-time foreign minister and deputy premier; last week the Iraq High Tribunal dismissed charges against him regarding Saddam’s crushing of a 1999 Shiite uprising.

Saddam’s first cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali for his use of chemical weapons against Kurdish populations in the late 1980s, received a 15-year sentence as well.

Aziz, 72, stood silent and his eye twitched as the judge read the verdict. Aziz is also still awaiting trial for the killings and arrests of Shiite Kurds in Diyala province in the 1980s.


‘Deadbeat’ comment irksome

A day after his White House meeting with President Barack Obama, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised congressional hackles by calling the United States a “deadbeat” donor to the world body.

Ban’s criticism Wednesday of the U.N.’s single biggest backer irked some members of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

“He used the word ‘deadbeat’ when it came to characterizing the United States. I take great umbrage (over) that,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the panel’s senior Republican, said after an hour-long, closed-door meeting.

Interviewed after the session, Ban said he had wanted to draw attention to the fact that the U.S. agrees to pay 22 percent of the U.N.’s $4.86 billion operating budget, but is perennially late with its dues – and now is about $1 billion behind on its payments.

From wire reports

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