Iraqi judiciary draws fire over fugitive
Sunni VP Hashemi's trial
June 21, 2012
Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. Photos:
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BAGHDAD, — The trial of Sunni Vice
President Tareq al-Hashemi has sparked division over
Iraq's judiciary, with his supporters criticising it
as politicised while others defend the courts.
Hashemi, a member of the secular Sunni-backed
Iraqiya bloc, fled to the autonomous Kurdistan
region of northern Iraq after being accused in
December of running a death squad, and subsequently
left the country.
Hashemi, his staff and his bodyguards face around
150 charges, which he insists are politically
motivated. He is being tried in absentia.
"All evidence during the past months indicates that
the judiciary was not successful in many things, and
the effect on it of politicisation is clear," Hamed
al-Mutlak, a leading MP in the Iraqiya bloc and
brother to one of Iraq's deputy prime ministers,
"We need a separation of powers and to define
responsibilities and stop the interference in the
work of the judiciary, which is not up to the
standard of the Iraqis, though Iraqis were one of
the first peoples to adopt laws," Mutlak said.
Earlier this year, a judge sought to have the
immunity from prosecution lifted from another
leading Iraqiya MP, Haidar al-Mullah, after he
accused the judge of being influenced by Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
When asked about the case, Mullah told AFP that
"there is an involvement from the executive
authority in the work of judiciary."
However, the Iraqi judiciary also has its defenders,
especially among allies of the country's premier.
"The judiciary is very neutral and the procedures
are correct, legally and constitutionally," said
Alia Nsayef, an MP from the Free Iraqiya bloc, which
broke away from Iraqiya and is allied with Maliki.
"Many lawmakers were briefed on the investigations
and they noticed through the confessions ... and the
evidence of the crimes and the assassinations that
the crimes are real," she said.
Judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar also
defended the courts.
"The accusations that we face during the period of
Hashemi's trial are because of the conflict of
interest among politicians," Bayraqdar told AFP.
"The trial is public and if we had anything to hide,
we would do it in a different way," he said.
"The judiciary in Iraq is like any judiciary in the
world -- it is accused of being politicised by the
accused people or those who do not like the
Hashemi's trial opened in May. The next hearing is
scheduled for July 8.
The accusations against Hashemi came amid a broader
series of intertwined political crises that began
with accusations that Maliki was centralising power
and moving toward dictatorship,www.ekurd.net
and have escalated into calls for him to be removed
The Hashemi case is not the first time the Iraqi
judiciary has been accused of politicisation in
The Iraqi courts were accused of being under
American influence during the trials of officials
from president Saddam Hussein's regime, and
especially that of Saddam himself, who was sentenced
to death and executed in 2006.
"The judiciary was really under American influence
during Saddam's trial and today, it moved from
American influence to the influence of the political
blocs and their struggles," according to independent
Kurdish MP Mahmud Othman.
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