Iraq’s Tareq Aziz back in jail after health scare

Former Iraqi deputy premier Tareq Aziz had medical tests after collapsing at a US prison camp but was given a clean bill of health and has been returned to custody, the US military said Saturday.

US command insisted Aziz was in no immediate danger in a statement that said the 71-year-old had been taken to a US base in Balad, northern Iraq for a CT scan and other tests as a precaution after fainting. “Mr. Aziz was seen at the hospital at Camp Cropper on July 17 after suffering a fall while walking,” the statement said.

“He was evaluated immediately by several physicians who found Mr. Aziz in normal condition. All studies came back normal for a person of Mr. Aziz’s age,” it added.

“He returned to the Theatre Internment Facility at Cropper on July 19 and is currently in the same health and with the same functional status as he was prior to his fall.” Azziz, who also served as foreign minister under the regime of  Saddam Hussein, is being detained at the camp outside Baghdad on suspicion of taking part in crimes against humanity. He is thought to be in failing health and after this week’s fainting episode his son said Aziz was being treated “in intensive care” and demanded he be released. In a telephone interview, Ziad Aziz told AFP he was worried.

“On Tuesday, my father telephoned us to say that he had lost consciousness and that the American doctor and director of the prison decided to transfer him to hospital in Balad,” said Ziad. “The prison doctor who examined him after he lost consciousness checked my father’s medical history, and after seeing that he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage in 2002, decided to transfer him to hospital.” Ziad, who lives in Amman, said he had received another call from his father on Saturday. “He had a weak voice. He told me he was in intensive care,” he said.

“Is it normal that a sick, 71-year-old man should be imprisoned without having been charged?” he asked,adding that the prison doctor and director had “saved his life by deciding to hospitalise him.”

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