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Iraqi leader under Saddam Hussein to be executed

— Tariq Aziz, who served as Iraq's top diplomat under Saddam Hussein, will be executed next year, after U.S. forces have pulled out of the country, according to an adviser to Iraq's prime minister.

"It will definitely take place, and it will take place after the Americans leave Iraq," said the adviser, Saad Yousif al-Muttalibi, about Aziz, who served as foreign minister.

A lawyer for Aziz said he was surprised. "I did not expect the government would be that stupid, by doing this they will drag this country to the edge of the abyss," said Badi Arif in a telephone interview.

"What about the national reconciliation that this government has been calling for? The government's position will be even weaker if they carry out the execution after the American troops leave the country and this will lead to more conflict among Iraqi factions."

A new law is under consideration that would require death sentences be ratified by the president within 15 days of their being handed down, al-Muttalibi said.

Al-Muttalibbi added that all of Iraqi society, including members of the three main sectarian groups -- Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- favor the law.

Aziz was captured by U.S. forces in April 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Hussein. He appeared frail when he testified in Hussein's 2006 trial on war crimes charges, for which the ousted dictator was hanged later that year.

Aziz was sentenced to death in October 2010 by the Iraqi High Tribunal for his role in eliminating religious parties during Hussein's regime.