BAGHDAD: Iraq's Tariq Aziz said ousted president Saddam Hussein personally ordered the suppression of a Shi'ite uprising in 1991 without reference to top aides, in new interrogation footage released yesterday.Aziz, who rose to the post of deputy prime minister in Saddam's regime and was one of its best-known faces abroad, said the president had absolute power in such matters, unbridled even by the 10-member Revolutionary Command Council.
"Some time in the 1980s - I do not remember when - an order came out that the president has the right to issue decrees that would have the force of law without having to consult or discuss these decisions with members of the Revolutionary Command Council," Aziz told the judge during the interrogation six days ago.
"Who issued this order?" asked Raed Juhi, a senior judge on the Iraqi Special Tribunal created by the previous US-led occupation to try Saddam and senior aides.
"The president himself," said Aziz.
Aziz was asked about the positions he held in March 1991, when thousands of Shi'ites are believed to have been killed in southern Iraq after they rose up in the aftermath of the rout of Saddam's invasion force in Kuwait.
"I was foreign minister," he said. In a later segment of the eight-minute long excerpt of the interrogation released by the tribunal, Aziz is asked whether as deputy prime minister he had presented Saddam with reports about the uprising. He is then presented with a report bearing his signature.
"I have no problem with this. Yes this is mine," says Aziz before the footage is cut.
His lawyer Badie Aref Izzat said that Aziz's interrogation lasted three hours and took place at a US military base near Baghdad airport, where Saddam and other high-level detainees are believed to be held.
Yesterday, three US Army soldiers - including two pilots whose helicopter crashed north of Baghdad and a soldier who was shot in the capital - were killed, while at least four Iraqis died in a car bomb attack in the capital.
The car bomb blew up in eastern Baghdad and injured 16 people, police and government officials said. The area of the explosion is packed with small shops and markets selling vegetables to clothes and is usually crowded with people shopping in the early evening.