Turkey refuses to extradite Hashemi

Turkey refuses to extradite Hashemi

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday made crystal clear that Turkey will not extradite fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court.

“We will host al-Hashemi in our country as long as he wants to remain in Turkey. We will not hand him over,” Erdoğan said at a press conference in Ankara ahead of his departure for an official visit to Azerbaijan.

Al-Hashemi, who has taken refuge in Turkey, was sentenced to death Sept. 9 for the murders of a lawyer and a brigadier general, after being accused of running a death squad.

‘Politically motivated’
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.

Erdoğan said al-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 al-Hashemi in December after U.S. troops pulled out of the country.

Al-Hashemi fled to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then traveled via Qatar and Saudi Arabia to eventually arrive in Turkey.

Speaking at a press conference in Ankara Sept. 10, al-Hashemi branded the death sentence “the final phase of the theatrical campaign” carried out by his rival, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and “his politicized judiciary.” Meanwhile, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Sept. 10 that ‘regrettable’ verdict may hurt efforts for national reconciliation.