Citing humanitarian grounds, the Russian foreign ministry has requested that Iraq not carry out the death sentence that was imposed on Tariq Aziz yesterday by an Iraqi court.
Russia, who was opposed to the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq, has requested that Tariq Aziz not be executed and in a statement asked for "mercy".
In a statement from the foreign ministry they wrote, "From a basic humanitarian point of view, it is obvious that his situation requires mercy." They also stated his advanced age and current health problems as reasons for him to be spared.
Tariq Aziz was the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq during the invasion of 2003 and very much the public face, appearing on TV frequently during that time.
In April 2003 Aziz surrendered himself to the US Forces and last year was sentenced to 15 years in jail for his part in the 1992 deaths of dozens of merchants. He also received a further 7 years for his part in the forced displacement of Kurds from Northern Iraq. This took place during the rule of Saddam.
Also appealing for Aziz's death sentence to be dropped is the Vatican and UN.
Speaking from New York, spokesman for the United Nations Martin Nesirky said, "The United Nations position on the death penalty is well known -- that is, that we oppose the death penalty, and certainly ... as in other cases, we would be suggesting that a death penalty should not be carried out."
However, the US State Department has pointed out that they will not be opposing this death sentence. Spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "Our position is that Tareq Aziz was convicted through a legal process that is consistent with the Iraqi constitution. The final disposition of this case is up to Iraq."
Surrendering in 2003 to the US, Tariq Aziz, who was born in 1936, was handed over to the Iraqi authorities this year to face charges there.