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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 00:40 GMT
Call to free Iraq's Tariq Aziz
Tariq Aziz (archive image)
Tariq Aziz was for many years the face of Iraq around the world
The spiritual leader of Iraq's Chaldean Christian community has called on US forces to release Saddam Hussein's ex-deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Cardinal Emmanuel Delly made the request in his Christmas message.

Mr Aziz, who is himself a Christian, gave himself up to US forces after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but no charges have been brought against him.

He was seen in court last year in his pyjamas, testifying for the defence in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

"In terms of Tariq Aziz," Cardinal Delly said, "we have to demand the release of all those who were captured and which have no evidence against them."

The Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, who criticised the US-led invasion in 2003, said his requests to visit Mr Aziz in prison had been turned down.

Iraqi prosecutors say he could face charges in connection with the crushing of the Shia Muslim uprising after the 1991 Gulf War.

In January last year, Mr Aziz's lawyer said his client had suffered a stroke.

In his message, Cardinal Delly also called for religious freedom in Iraq, where many Christians have been kidnapped, killed or forced to flee.

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