Iraqi Court Sentences Vice President to Death in Absentia

An Iraqi court sentenced Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, the top Sunni Muslim politician, to death in absentia on terrorism charges, said Abdel Sattar al-Bairaqdar, spokesman for the supreme judicial council.

Hashimi has the right to appeal the sentencing, al-Bairaqdar said in a phone interview today. One of Hashimi’s bodyguards was also given a death sentence.

Hashimi left Baghdad late last year after an arrest warrant was issued for him. State-sponsored Iraqiya television aired what it described as confessions by his bodyguards saying that they committed murder at his request in return for money. Hashimi said the confessions were fabricated.

The Sunni politician flew in April to Istanbul from Qatar, where the minister of state in charge of foreign affairs had refused an extradition request. Turkey has called efforts by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite formerly exiled in Iran, to arrest Hashimi “unacceptable.”

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