Tariq Aziz, top Iraqi diplomat under Saddam Hussein, dies

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Tariq Aziz

IRAQ — Tariq Aziz, the imprisoned former Saddam Hussein adviser who served as a public face of the dictator’s Iraqi government until the regime was toppled in 2003, died Friday of a heart attack at a hospital, two officials in the Mideast nation said.

He was 79.

Aziz, who’d been sentenced to death four years ago in one of several post-Hussein trials against him, died at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, said Hussein al-Askay, the head of a Nasiriya prison, and Saad al-Majid, the director of the province’s health department.

Aziz had been taken to the hospital after his medical condition deteriorated at the prison, the officials said.

Aziz often defended the Hussein regime on the international stage, serving as deputy prime minister from 1981 to 2003 and as foreign minister for part of that time.

He surrendered to U.S. troops shortly after the 2003 U.S. led-invasion of the country and was one of many former Hussein regime officials to stand several Iraqi trials over the next decade.