Iraq Sunni VP Hashemi demands probe into
March 26, 2012
Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi
has been hiding in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan
region since December 2011
Photo: AFP See Related Links
ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —
Iraq's fugitive vice president on Sunday called for
an urgent neutral inquiry into the death of his
bodyguard, who was allegedly tortured while in
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni the
authorities have accused of running death squads,
said his lawyers had been restricted access to the
investigation against him and that the "situation in
Iraq has become intolerable."
Hashemi alleges that his bodyguard Amir Sarbut
Zaidan al-Batawi, who died in custody earlier this
month, was tortured, and has released photographs
which he says support the claims.
Security forces and judicial officials say Batawi
died of kidney failure.
Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, has called for a
criminal investigation into the death of the
"I ask all human rights related organisations in
Iraq to take urgent actions by sending (a) neutral
and specialised committee to examine the body
medically and to identify the cause of death,"
Hashemi said in a televised speech delivered in
"I also ask security and judicial authorities in
Iraq to provide an explanation for what happened."
He said his lawyers had not been allowed to witness
investigation hearings, and when they were given
access to minutes of the hearing, judges barred them
from taking notes or making copies.
"I beseech (the) international community to take
rapid action to rectify (the) disastrous situation
and status related to human rights, as the situation
in Iraq has become intolerable," Hashemi said.
A senior Iraqi general and a judicial spokesman have
said Batawi died of kidney failure and other
conditions after refusing treatment, and suggested
photographs released by Hashemi's office apparently
showing Batawi's body bearing signs of abuse were
In December, shortly after US troops completed their
withdrawal from Iraq, the country's Shiite-led
authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi on
sparking a protracted political crisis.
Hashemi, who has been in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan
region for the duration of the row, says the
allegations are politically motivated, and Kurdish
officials have refused to hand him over to the
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