Baghdad - Tareq Aziz, the late Saddam Hussein's ailing former deputy premier now on death row, is suffering from depression and plans to ask the pope to call for his speedy execution, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Badie Aref said Aziz, a Christian, believed he was being treated well in prison, but was suffering from ill health and simply wanted an end to his "misery”.
"He is in total depression," Aref told AFP by telephone after meeting with Aziz earlier on Wednesday.
The lawyer said Aziz had told him: "I will now write an appeal to the pope. Even though I have never met him in person, I will call for him to end my misery, because I would prefer to be executed rather than stay in this condition."
Aziz, a close confidante of now-executed dictator Saddam, was sentenced to death in October 2010 after having been found guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity”.
The Vatican, the EU and several Western governments have called on Baghdad for clemency.
Aziz has been in prison since surrendering in April 2003, days after the fall of Baghdad in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
His family has repeatedly called for his release on health grounds, particularly after he suffered a heart attack in late 2007.
He also suffers from high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and ulcers.