The Iraqi Higher Judicial Council has announced that the trial of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi will start May 3.
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, the Higher Judicial Council’s spokesman, Abdulsettar Bayrakdar, said the investigation panel had transferred the case to the Baghdad Central High Criminal Court, and that the trial of al-Hashemi and his son-in-law would start May 3. “We will summon al-Hashemi and his son-in-law. If they do not attend, the case will continue as trial in absentia,” Bayrakdar said. Addressing al-Hashemi’s call for his case to be transferred to Kirkuk province and his threat to appeal to the international community, Bayrakdar said: “The vice president will be tried in Baghdad according to the law of criminal procedure.”
Al-Hashemi slammed Iraqi government charges that he ran death squads as politically motivated, and called on “all honest Iraqi people” to rise up in his defense on Feb. 20. “The aim has become very clear: to tarnish the political picture by using lies, forgery and deceit. I have been involved in no suspicious activities,” he said.
Last week, a judicial panel in Baghdad concluded that al-Hashemi has been behind at least 150 bombings and assassinations since 2005. The conclusions stemmed from a review of a December warrant for al-Hashemi’s arrest, which accused him of paying his bodyguards $3,000 to kill security forces and government officials.