Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Iraq's fugitive Vice President charged with several murders

According to Iraqi court officials, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has been charged with several murders, including those of six judges. The fugitive vice president, who is currently in the Kurdish region of the country, is not expected to attend his trial on Thursday 3 May.

Al-Hashemi fled Iraq in December 2011, following allegations that he was implicated in death squads. Hashemi, a senior Sunni figure in the Shi'a-dominated Iraqi parliament, has accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of driving sectarianism.

On Monday 30 April, Iraq's Supreme Judiciary Council said Hashemi and some of his bodyguards had been accused of a series of killings.

A spokesman for the Council Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar said: "There are many crimes that Hashemi and his guards are accused of and there were confessions obtained, including on the assassinations of six judges, mostly from Baghdad."

Early in April al-Hashemi accused al-Maliki of wanting to "regenerate the sectarian strife". He added that Iraq was at a crossroads and it was necessary to take urgent action to prevent it from dividing along ethnic ruptures.

Al-Hashemi has denied connection with death squads and said Iraq's security services had tortured his bodyguards to obtain false confessions to back up claims that he had ordered killings and bombings.

Al-Hashemi absconded after Baghdad issued a warrant for his arrest on 19 December, accusing him of arranging bomb attacks and assassinating Shi'a officials. His leaving has underlined the mounting tensions within Iraq's newly formed government.

The seemingly noticeable divide between Sunni-Shi'a communities is raising fears among some that sectarian fissures may result in a nationwide conflict, with Sunni groups already accusing al-Maliki of taking an authoritarian approach to leading the government.

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, WSJ

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

No comments:

Post a Comment