Turkey refuses to extradite fugitive Iraqi vice president
ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
AA photoTurkey refused to extradite Iraq's fugitive vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced in absentia to death by an Iraqi court, AFP has reported.
"We will host Hashemi in our country as long as he wants to remain in Turkey. We will not hand him over," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara.
Hashemi, who is sheltering in Turkey, was Sunday sentenced to death for the murders of a lawyer and a brigadier general, after being accused of running a death squad.
The Sunni Arab politician has charged that his trial was politically motivated and ruled out returning to Iraq until his security is guaranteed and he is assured of a fair trial.
Erdogan said Hashemi, an Iraqi official who lost many family members during the conflict in Iraq, could not possibly have been involved in the crimes that he has been found guilty of.
Iraq's Shiite-led government opened charges against Hashemi in December after US troops pulled out of the country.
Hashemi fled to Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then travelled via Qatar and Saudi Arabia to eventually arrive Turkey.
Speaking in Ankara on Monday, Hashemi branded the death sentence "the final phase of the theatrical campaign" carried out by his rival, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and "his politicised judiciary".
19 of 25 soldiers killed in depot blast identified: Erdoğan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also said that 19 of the 25 soldiers killed in a munitions depot blast on Sept. 5 have been identified through DNA tests.
Erdoğan revealed that four officers who were stationed at the garrison where the blast occured had been removed from their posts.