Tariq Aziz, who was long seen as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's right-hand man, has died at a Nasiriyah hospital following a heart attack, officials have confirmed.

Aziz served as both foreign minister and deputy prime minister in Hussein's regime. He was pronounced dead at the al-Hussein hospital, 200 miles south east of Baghdad.

He had recently fallen ill while awaiting execution at a local prison.

The 79 year old was the highest-ranking Christian to serve under Hussein. His distinctive thick glasses and moustache made him one of the most recognisable faces of the regime abroad.

After the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, he was tried on charges of persecuting Shi'ite Muslims and subsequently sentenced in 2010 to death by hanging.

He was the eight of spades in the infamous US Department of Defence deck of cards depicting the most wanted members of the Hussein regime.

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