Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Fugitive Iraq vice president rejects death sentence

Tareq Al Hashemi has rejected his murder conviction and death sentence, and ruled out returning home from Turkey until he is guaranteed "security and a fair trial".

BAGHDAD // Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president yesterday declared his “absolute innocence” after he was sentenced to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals.

Tariq Al Hashemi, who fled Iraq after the government brought charges against him, rejected the conviction against him as a politically motivated sham and said he would not return to appeal the verdict unless he could be assured of a fair day in court.

But Al Hashemi said a fair trial would be impossible in Baghdad and accused the prime minister Nouri Al Maliki – a Shiite and the vice president’s longtime foe – of manipulating the courts against him as part of a political vendetta.

“The verdict is unjust, politicised, illegitimate and I will not recognise it,” Al Hashemi said in Ankara. “But I put it as a medal of honor on my chest because it was Al Maliki, not anyone else, behind it.”

“The death sentence is a price I have to pay due to my love for my country and my loyalty to my people,” he said. “I reiterate that I’m innocent, and am ready to stand before a fair judicial system and not a corrupt one that is under Al Maliki’s influence.”

Asked directly if he will return to Baghdad within 30 days to seek a retrial, as is his right under Iraqi law, Al Hashemi said: “I’m not going, regardless of the time scale that has been offered to me.”

Al Hashemi fled to Turkey after Iraq’s Shiite-led government issued the terror charges against him in December, the day after US troops withdrew from the country.

The politically charged case sparked a government crisis and fuelled Sunni Muslim and Kurdish resentment against Mr Al Maliki, whom critics say is monopolising power.

On Sunday, Baghdad’s criminal court convicted Al Hashemi and his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, of organising the murders of a Shiite security official and a lawyer who had refused to help the vice president’s allies in terror cases. In a third case, the two defendants were acquitted of the killing of a security officer due to a lack of evidence.

The charges were the first against Al Hashemi to go to trial among the government’s allegations that he played a role in 150 bombings, assassinations and other attacks from 2005 to 2011 – years in which the country was mired in sectarian violence that followed the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. Most of the attacks were allegedly carried out by Al Hashemi’s bodyguards and other employees, and largely targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims.

Sunday’s verdict was announced as Iraq reeled from a day of bombings and shootings that left 92 people dead and more than 360 wounded in nearly two dozen attacks across the country. Yesterday, in a statement posted on a militant website, Al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq claimed responsibility for the wave of violence and vowed there will be more “black days ahead”.

Most of the court evidence against Al Hashemi came from 10 of his former bodyguards who testified they were ordered by Qahtan, and then paid, to carry out killings in small groups.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National