Hashemi rejects Iraqi court's 'politically motivated' death sentence

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi speaks to the media as he leaves a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (not pictured), in Ankara, Sept. 9, 2012. (Photo: AP)

September 10, 2012, Monday/ 10:23:00

Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, on Monday said he does not recognize the ruling of an Iraqi court which sentenced him to death in absentia on charges of plotting terrorist attacks in the country.

"Yesterday Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki and his ... judicary concluded the final phase of the theatrical campaign against me using a kangaroo court set up for this purpose. It was really a shambles," Hashemi told a news conference in Ankara where he is in exile.

"Therefore, while reconfirming my and my guards' absolute innocence, I totally reject and will never recognise the unfair, the unjust, the politically motivated verdict."

Hashemi said he is ready to be tried in a fair court but not in Iraqi courts, which he said are under the influence of Maliki.

“This decision is no different from an acquittal for me. It is an unjust decision. I am innocent and all charges were unfairly directed against me,” he said. Noting that the “unjust” decision will not prevent him from serving his country, the Iraqi vice president said he became the vice president of Iraq “with the support of Iraqi people, not that of Maliki.”

"My people, don't give Maliki and those who stand behind him the chance," Hashemi said. "They want to make this a sectarian strife. Oppose his conspiracies and provocation calmly... People should not stay silent on the unprecedented oppression in Iraq."

Hashemi fled the country earlier this year after authorities sought his arrest. His case sparked a political crisis in the country's power-sharing government among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political blocs.

Hashemi accused Shiite Prime Minister Maliki of conducting a political witch-hunt against Sunni opponents, but the government said it was strictly a judicial case. Hashemi is currently in Turkey.

The Iraqi vice president was convicted Sunday of organizing death squads that killed a Baghdad lawyer and a government security official.  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met on Sunday with Hashemi, who arrived in Ankara hours after the Iraqi court's decision.

Hashemi told reporters that the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was planned earlier, adding that they discussed "issues of bilateral and joint interest."

Turkish diplomatic sources said Davutoğlu and Hashemi also discussed the death sentence given to the Iraqi vice president. Davutoğlu went to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters after the meeting and briefed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his talks with Hashemi. National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan also attended the meeting.