LONDON – Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz (search), has agreed to testify against Saddam Hussein in his upcoming trial, a British newspaper reported Sunday. Aziz's lawyer, however, dismissed the claim.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that, in return for his cooperation, Aziz could be freed from prison soon after the end of Saddam's trial, which starts Wednesday. The paper attributed the information to unidentified U.S. officials and Aziz's lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref (search).
But Aref told The Associated Press the report was "completely groundless."
"What I told the British newspaper is that during a questioning session, Tariq Aziz was asked about who in Iraq took sovereign decisions like declaring war, suppressing a revolt or a civil mutiny," Aref said.
"Tariq Aziz's answer was that sovereign and political decisions were in the hands of Saddam and he had nothing to do with them."
Aziz has not been charged with any offense but is being investigated for his role in Saddam's regime. He has been jailed since surrendering in April 2003.
The upcoming trial focuses on the role of Saddam and seven allies in a 1982 massacre in Dujail, Iraq, a heavily Shiite town 50 miles north of Baghdad (search). About 150 people were executed and up to 1,500 others imprisoned and tortured after Shiite militants there failed to assassinate Saddam, a Sunni.