An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced fugitive vice president Tariq al-Hashemi to death by hanging after a trial on charges that he ran death squads, Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesman for the judiciary council, said.
"The high criminal court issued a death sentence by hanging against Tariq al-Hashemi after he was convicted," he said.
Hashemi, a Sunni, fled the country earlier this year after authorities sought his arrest. His case sparked a political crisis in the country's power-sharing government amoung Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political blocs.
Hashemi accused Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of conducting a political witch-hunt against Sunni opponents, but the government said it was a judicial case. Hashemi is currently in Turkey.
Hashemi, who is currently residing in Turkey, has reportedly downplayed the court decision.
Sources close to the vice president told Today’s Zaman that Hashemi attaches little importance to the decision and that he is headed to Ankara for talks with Turkish officials. The same source added that his Ankara program was scheduled before the verdict.
Sources also underlined that the court decision will make Hashemi a hero among the Iraqi public.