Body of former Baathis Iraqi deputy prime minister has disappeared, believed snatched en-route to Amman for burial.
The body of the former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has gone missing in Iraq after it was reportedly snatched in Baghdad en-route to burial.
Reports suggest the body of one of former president Saddam Hussein’s closest aides was taken on Thursday shortly before it was to be loaded on to a flight to Jordan’s capital Amman, where Aziz’s family intended he be buried.
Aziz, who served as Iraq’s foreign minister under Saddam, died last week in prison from a heart attack, and his family had arranged for his body to be transported by Royal Jordanian Airlines to his funeral.
Former Iraqi deputy PM Tariq Aziz dies in prison
Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Amman, said officials at Baghdad International Airport had confirmed Aziz’s body had been taken by gunmen just minutes before departure.
“The armed group that took his body were permitted to be at the airport,” El-Shamayleh said, adding officials had not released more details about those responsible.
“Sources have told Al Jazeera that this was the 8:10pm flight from Baghdad to Amman, on which we expected Tariq Aziz’s body to be flown back to Amman with his wife.”
An official at Royal Jordanian Airlines confirmed to Al Jazeera that the flight had left Baghdad without Aziz’s funeral casket onboard. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
The disappearance of the body was also confirmed by the former Iraqi foreign minister’s daughter.
Read more: A divisive legacy: Tariq Aziz (1936-2015)
Aziz’s funeral was set to take place in Amman at his own request, and at the request of his son, Ziyad, who believed armed groups would attack his grave if he was buried in his home country.
The former member of Saddam’s Baathist ruling circle spent the last 12 years in prison, after handing himself over to US forces, who invaded in 2003.
Aziz was later sentenced to death for crimes committed under Saddam’s government, but the order was never carried out.
Source: Al Jazeera