Iraqi VP’s 2 guards sentenced to death
BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is currently staying in Istanbul as Ankara earlier declared that that he will not be handed over to Baghdad. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Two guards of vice president Tariq al-Hashemi were yesterday sentenced by an Iraqi court to death for planting a roadside bomb, at a hearing boycotted by defense lawyers who said it was unfair.
Al-Hashemi, a top Sunni official and a prominent critic of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has himself being handed three death sentences in absentia. He dismisses the charges against him and his staff as politically-motivated.
Yesterday’s rulings follow death sentences for six other bodyguards at a hearing on Nov. 6. Defense lawyers stayed away from both trials to protest what they alleged were pre-arranged verdicts.
“The court issued death sentences for two bodyguards of Tariq al-Hashemi because they were accused of being responsible for a bomb explosion at Mustansariyah intersection” in east Baghdad, said Muayad al-Izzi, who heads al-Hashemi’s defense team.
“Defense lawyers boycotted the case, because it seems the rulings of the court have already been decided,” he added.
Izzi said his team was considering boycotting further hearings on charges against al-Hashemi scheduled for Dec. 2 and Dec. 5, but had not yet made a final decision on whether or not to do so.
Al-Hashemi, his secretary and his guards were originally accused of running a death squad in mid-December 2011 as the last U.S. troops left the country.
He fled to Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then embarked on a tour that took him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and finally to Turkey.