Iraqi Kurdistan president refuses handover
of fugitive Iraq's Sunni VP 15.3.2012
March 15, 2012
Kurdistan Region's President Massoud Barzani (Top
Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi
has been hiding in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan
region since December 2011
See Related Links
ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —
Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region will not hand
over fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi to
stand trial in Baghdad because "Kurdish ethics"
forbid it, the region's leader said on Thursday.
Hashemi, one of Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim
politicians, fled Baghdad for the Kurdish zone in
December to avoid prosecution at the hands of the
Shi'ite-led central government on charges of running
His presence in Kurdistan has further strained
relations between Baghdad and the Kurds, who also
have long-running disputes over territory and oil.
"Kurdistan will not hand over Hashemi because
Kurdish ethics do not allow us to do that,"
Kurdistan regional President Massoud Barzani said in
a speech to his KDP political party.
"It has reached the extent that some were suggesting
we facilitate his escape outside Iraq. Our response
was that we do not work as smugglers and we won't
accept that," he said.
"If Hashemi wishes to leave the country it must be
open ... If Hashemi has been accused to the degree
the government says, why would they want Kurdistan
to help him escape abroad?"
Washington withdrew its forces from Iraq last year
hoping political stability would be guaranteed by a
deal including Kurdish and Sunni Arab groups in a
government led by Maliki's Shi'ite majority.
Maliki's government issued charges against Hashemi
on the eve of the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops
in December, causing a political crisis in the
fragile national unity government. Hashemi's Iraqiya
bloc, the main alliance supported by Sunnis,
announced a boycott of the cabinet and parliament.
However, most of Iraqiya's lawmakers returned last
month, easing the crisis, and many of Iraq's
political commentators say the affair ended up
strengthening Maliki's grip on power.
The Interior Ministry in Baghdad has said it has
formally requested the Kurdish authorities hand over
Hashemi to stand trial in Baghdad. Kurdish Deputy
Interior Minister Jalal Kareem told Reuters on
Thursday the regional government had yet to receive
any such request.
Hashemi says the charges against him are political,
and he will not return to Baghdad to face them
because the courts are biased. He has offered to
stand trial in Kirkuk,www.ekurd.net
a part of Iraq where Kurds and his fellow Sunni
Arabs hold sway.
Farhad Atrishi, a Kurdish lawmaker in the national
parliament in Baghdad, said the Kurds were
protecting Hashemi as a way of safeguarding the
"Hashemi is an individual, but behind him is the
Iraqiya bloc, which is one of the biggest blocs and
represents a component of society, the Sunnis. When
they say that there is a marginalisation and
exclusion, we defend that."
Iraqi officials say the case against Hashemi is
purely criminal and not motivated by sectarian
They say he used his political power to provide
cover for Sunni insurgents responsible for killings.
A judicial panel has rejected moving the case from
"Hashemi has created a big embarrassment for
Kurdistan," said Ali Shlah, a lawmaker from Maliki's
State of Law coalition.
"Barzani wants to keep good relations with all sides
because he wants to remain a good mediator between
all sides," he said. "Hashemi should lift the
embarrassment from the Kurds and turn himself over
By Shamal Aqrawi - Reuters
Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page