x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Iraq blocks extradition of Hizbollah commander

US alleged that Ali Mussa Daqduq was behind fatal attack.

BAGHDAD // An Iraqi court has rejected a request to send a Hizbollah commander to the United States for trial, a decision that apparently ends US efforts to prosecute him.

The US believes Ali Mussa Daqduq is a top threat to Americans in the Middle East, and had asked Baghdad to extradite him even before two Iraqi courts found him not guilty of masterminding the 2007 raid on an American military base in Karbala that killed five US soldiers.

But the July 30 decision by the Iraqi central criminal court - which was obtained yesterday - ordered that Mr Daqduq be freed immediately.

It also makes it clear that Iraq believes the legal case against him is over.

"It is not possible to hand him over because the charges were dropped in the same case," the three-judge panel ruled.

"Therefore, the court decided to reject the request to hand over the Lebanese defendant Ali Mussa Daqduq to the US judiciary authorities and to release him immediately."

The US Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment yesterday and referred questions about the case to Washington.

Mr Daqduq's lawyer, Abdul Mahdi Al Mitairi, said his client is still being held under house arrest in Baghdad's heavily fortified green zone.

But he said he will push to have Mr Daqduq released before the end of Ramadan.