Fugitive Iraq leader pays visit to Qatar

Fugitive Iraq leader pays visit to Qatar

DOHA - Hürriyet Daily News
Fugitive Iraq leader pays visit to Qatar

Iraq’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has left northern Iraq to visit Qatar. REUTERS photo

Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad, left the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq for Qatar yesterday, a statement from his office said.

This is the first time that is known to have left the autonomous region since he fled there in December. His departure came before Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani’s scheduled visit to Washington this week at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden, where he is expected to discuss recent developments in Iraq.

Iraqi officials accuse al-Hashemi of running death squads against Shiite pilgrims, government officials, and security forces. He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated. Although Baghdad has called for the KRG to hand al-Hashemi over, it has so far declined to do so. In clear defiance of the arrest warrant, al-Hashemi’s office said he had left the country to visit predominantly Sunni Qatar. “Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi left on Sunday morning... heading to Doha in the brotherly state of Qatar in accordance with an invitation he received previously,” the statement said.

During the visit, which will last several days, al-Hashemi will meet Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, before visiting unnamed other countries and returning to Kurdistan, the statement added, according to Agence France-Presse. While the crisis has abated somewhat in recent weeks, al-Hashemi has remained in the Kurdish region, saying he cannot receive a fair trial in Baghdad.