Tuesday, 24th October 2017

Iraq vp death squad trial delayed on defence appeals

9th July 2012 | 2.014 Views
Baghdad (ANTARA News/AFP) - The trial of Iraq`s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, accused of running death squads, was postponed on Sunday as judges await an appeals court ruling on the conduct of the trial.

Hashemi, last known to be in Turkey, is being tried in absentia along with several of his bodyguards in a case which when initially filed in December as US troops were pulling out worsened a brewing political crisis.

The vice president, a Sunni, insists the charges, brought by the Shiite-led government, are politically-motivated.

"They (Hashemi`s defence team) presented three or four appeals, and we rejected all of them" so the vice president`s lawyers appealed directly to the federal appeals court over the conduct of the trial, one of the judges said.

"We are obliged, as a court, to listen to the appeals court`s ruling. They will examine it, and we will wait to see what they decide."

The judge did not set a date for a further hearing, but Higher Judicial Council spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar told AFP that it had been delayed until July 24.

Bayraqdar added that another case against Hashemi was due to begin October 1, but he did not provide further details.

The trial, which began May 15, has previously heard testimony that silenced pistols were found in raids on Hashemi`s house and that of his son-in-law, and Hashemi`s bodyguards and other officials say they were offered money, or were coerced, into carrying out attacks on the vice president`s orders.

Hashemi, one of Iraq`s top Sunni Arab officials, was accused in December of running a death squad and, along with his staff and bodyguards, faces around 150 charges.

After the initial charges were filed, he fled to Iraq`s autonomous Kurdish region before embarking on a regional tour that has taken him to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and then Turkey. Ankara has said it will not extradite him to Iraq.(*)