Tariq Aziz (search), the urbane, English-speaking envoy of the former Iraqi regime, argued Thursday he was not personally responsible for any murders during his appearance before an Iraqi judge.

Aziz, a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister, was among 12 defendants, including Saddam Hussein (search), who appeared before the judge to hear charges against them.

Aziz, the only Christian in the top Baath Party (search) leadership, asked the judge for an Arab, non-Iraqi lawyer and a "foreign lawyer as well."

"I need to know. Are these charges personal?" he asked. "Is it Tariq Aziz who is accused of these killing?"

"If there was a crime, the moral responsibility rests with the leadership," he said. "But a member of the leadership cannot be personally responsible. I never killed anybody by any direct act."