Monday, October 31, 2005

Aziz denies naming British MP in oil probe

10/30/05 "ABC" -- -- US congressional investigators said this week they had evidence that George Galloway had profited from the defunct UN program created to protect Iraqis from the harsh effects of sanctions against their Government.

The report said Mr Aziz, under questioning by the subcommittee, said he had discussed oil allocations with Mr Galloway and confirmed a letter in which the British Member of Parliament requested a bigger oil allocation.

"These are lies ... he [Mr Aziz] denied this," Mr Aziz's lawyer, Badia Aref, said.

"It is part of a media campaign aimed at smearing Galloway's reputation."

Mr Aref says Mr Aziz confirms that Iraq has given $A60,00 to the Mariam Appeal cancer charity set up by Mr Galloway, but only to help sick Iraqi children.

He says Mr Aziz, now in jail in Iraq, had made the comments in a questioning session some three months ago during which Mr Aziz was asked 110 questions about Mr Galloway.

The report said Mr Galloway personally solicited and was granted oil allocations from the Iraqi Government for 23 million barrels from 1999 to 2003.

It said Mr Galloway's wife received about $A200,000 in connection with the allocations and the Mariam fund received at least $A595,000.

Mr Galloway himself told the committee that he was not an oil trader and had never spoken to Mr Aziz about Iraq providing financial support for the Mariam Appeal.

He has also rejected the latest US accusations that he profited from the oil-for-food program.

Mr Aref says Mr Aziz refuses to "testify against anyone, including former president Saddam Hussein", whose trial started this month but has been adjourned until November.

Mr Aziz, a Christian who was the public face of Saddam's regime abroad, was arrested after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

No formal charges have been brought against him yet.

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