Iraqi Sunni VP Hashemi's lawyers want
president Talabani to testify
June 1, 2012
Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (C)
arrives for a press conference on May 4, 2012 in
Istanbul. Hashemi, accused of running a
death squad, said that he has no faith in the Iraqi
justice system and fears for his life.' I have a
major lack of confidence and mistrust regarding the
principles of justice' in Iraq, the key Sunni
leader, who is on trial in absentia, told
journalists. Photo: Getty Images.
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BAGHDAD,— Lawyers for Iraq's fugitive
vice president on Thursday asked judges in his
terror trial to summon the nation's president as a
The three-judge panel immediately rejected the
request but said the defense can appeal.
Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's
highest-ranking Sunni politician, is accused of
running death squads that targeted Shiite officials
and pilgrims. Al-Hashemi, who has sought refuge in
Turkey, has denied wrongdoing and has said he is the
victim of a political vendetta by Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.
Al-Maliki is facing mounting allegations from within
his broad-based unity government that he is
excluding minority Sunni and Kurdish coalition
partners from power.
The case against al-Hashemi has fueled Sunni and
Kurdish resentment against al-Maliki, who critics
charge is monopolizing power. A warrant for al-Hashemi's
arrest was issued the day after the last U.S. troops
left Iraq in December.
At a session earlier this month, the defense team
announced it was quitting the case after the court
blocked a request for evidence the lawyers said
could exonerate al-Hashemi.
On Thursday, al-Hashemi's lawyers sat among the
spectators, rather than at the defense table.
Even so, they interacted with the judges, including
making the request to summon Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani, a Kurd, and five Sunni lawmakers as
The lawyers said they wanted to question Talabani as
a character witness and ask him if he had any
information about al-Hashemi's alleged role in
Al-Hashemi is charged with involvement in killing
two government officials and a lawyer.
Three bodyguards, a former insurgent and a police
officer took the stand Thursday. They said they
carried out a number of bombing attacks between 2005
targeting security and government officials. They
said they received their orders from al-Hashemi's
son-in-law, who faces the same charges as the vice
The former insurgent told the court al-Hashemi's
aides approached him in 2009 and offered to fund his
nine-member group to carry out attacks on security
forces north of Baghdad.
In previous sessions, the court heard testimony from
three of al-Hashemi's former bodyguards, who said
they were ordered and paid to kill security
officials and plant roadside bombs. The witnesses
said the orders came either from al-Hashemi's
son-in-law, who worked as his office manager, or
from the vice president himself.
The court adjourned until June 19.
By Sinan Salahedding - Associated Press
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