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Saddam co-defendant pleads for treatment

Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and co-defendant in a trial on charges of crimes against humanity has asked to his captors to free him so he can seek treatment for cancer, a newspaper said Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and co-defendant in a trial on charges of crimes against humanity has asked to his captors to free him so that he can seek treatment for cancer, an Arab newspaper said on Friday.

The daily Asharq al-Awsat said Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti made his appeal in a letter to U.S. President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Arab leaders to help win his release so he can be treated for spine cancer.

“I plead to President Bush ... in the name of justice and the principles of democracy and human rights defended by the United States, to look into my humanitarian situation,” the newspaper quoted Barzan as saying in the letter.

The letter, which the London-based newspaper said was in Barzan’s handwriting, could not be immediately authenticated.

Barzan, a former head of Iraq’s feared Mukhabarat intelligence service, said he could not receive proper treatment in prison, adding that some prisoners had died of cancer while in detention.

Barzan, an adviser to Saddam, has denied the charges against him and insisted he was “an innocent person dragged into a matter that does not concern him, and on which his view is well known.”

No. 38 on the U.S. most-wanted list in Iraq, Barzan was captured in April 2003. As head of the intelligence service, he was accused of ordering mass murder and torture, and of personally taking part in human rights abuses, including the destruction of villages.

U.S. officials described Barzan as a member of what they called Saddam’s “Dirty Dozen.”