Iraqi VP defies death sentence

Iraqi VP defies death sentence

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Iraqi VP defies death sentence

Should the trial be fair, the fugitive Iraqi VP says he is ready to face a judge. DAILY NEWS photo

Iraq’s fugitive Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has defied the verdict of an Iraqi court that sentenced him to death on charges of running death squads in Iraq, and ruled out returning home until he is guaranteed “security and a fair trial.”

Reiterating his belief that the court was acting under political influence, the Sunni politician said he would only stand trial in a joint court of the United Nations and Iraq. “While reconfirming my absolute innocence and that of my guards, I totally reject and will never recognize the unfair, unjust and politically motivated verdict, which was expected from the outset of this ridiculous trial,” al-Hashemi told reporters in a press conference yesterday.

President Jalal Talabani said in a statement on its website yesterday that ‘regrettable’ verdict may hurt efforts for national reconciliation. “It was regrettable that the judicial decision against him was issued at this particular time,” Talabani said. “He is still officially in office, which could become an unhelpful factor that... may complicate efforts to achieve national reconciliation.”

The court’s death sentence, which was reached without hearing his defense, was “the final phase of the theatrical campaign” carried out by his political rival, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and “his politicized judiciary,” al-Hashemi said. Al-Hashemi’s remarks came a day after an Iraqi court sentenced him to death by hanging for the murder of a lawyer and a brigadier general and demanded his return back home within 30 days. He stated that he would consider going back to Baghdad only if his security was guaranteed and he was assured a fair trial.

“The most important issue is a fair trial. If that is guaranteed and ... the U.N. assures me of a fair trial in Baghdad, I am ready to attend,” al-Hashemi said, adding that he had sent letters to the U.N. and that there might be developments in the “upcoming month.” He will stay in Turkey, where he is currently in self-imposed exile, for as long as he is welcome and until his problem is solved, al-Hashimi said, adding that he did not want to be a burden for Turkey, was not seeking asylum here and could go to other countries if necessary.

Turkey condemns blasts

“Turkey’s attitude is satisfactory,” he said, in reply to a question regarding his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that was held hours later after the court declared its verdict.
Davutoğlu later briefed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late Sept. 9, in a meeting also attended by Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned a wave of more than 30 attacks around Iraq that killed more than 88 people. Al-Qaeda front organization the Islamic State of Iraq posted a claim on the Internet yesterday for the blasts, Agence France-Presse reported.