Iraq asks Kurds to hand over Hashemi
BAGHDADIraq has formally asked authorities in the semi-autonomous northern Iraq to hand over Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and 12 of his entourage to face charges of running death squads, an Iraqi official said yesterday.
Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni politician in mid-December, shortly after the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops, triggering a political crisis that threatens Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s fragile governing coalition. The move against Hashemi and Maliki’s request to parliament to remove Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, followed a few days later by a series of bombings in mostly Shi’ite areas of Baghdad that killed at least 72 people. Hashemi, who has denied the charges, travelled to the semi-autonomous northern Iraq after the central government sought his arrest. He has said he cannot get a fair trial in Baghdad. Judicial authorities of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) confirmed they had received the request but declined to say if they would turn Hashemi over.
“We received today an arrest warrant against Tariq al-Hashemi with a decision prohibiting him from travelling,” Dadyar Hameed, a spokesman for the Judiciary Council, told reporters in Arbil. But he said the central government does not have the right to send security forces to arrest Hashemi, which has its own military and police. “The region has a special status of having its own security forces and that was set by the constitution. They can’t come here and arrest suspects and we also can’t go to the region and arrest suspects,” he said.