Iraq’s Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who fled the country months ago, was sentenced to death Sunday after being found quilty for running a death squad just hours after a wave of bombings killed at least 73 people across the country. Hashemi, tried in absentia, has dismissed all charges against him as politically motivated.
The court also tried his secretary and son-in-law Ahmed Qahtan in absentia and sentenced him to death. Iraq’s Shiite-led government has accused al-Hashemi of being involved in 150 bombings, assassinations and other attacks from 2005 to 2011 most of which were allegedly carried out by his bodyguards and other employees. Al-Hashemi has claimed that his bodyguards were likely tortured or otherwise coerced into testifying against him.
Interpol issued a “red notice” for al-Hashimi in May, “on suspicion of guiding and financing terrorist attacks in the country.” The notice calls on the 190 countries that belong to the international police organization to help locate and arrest him, at the request of the Iraqi authorities. No such action has been taken to arrest him since the notice was issued four months ago. Al-Hashimi is now living in Turkey. Before that, he lived in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and also traveled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the invitation of those governments.
Meanwhile, suspected al-Qaeda fighters and other armed groups have killed at least 73 people in a wave of attacks in Iraq, accoridng to Al Jazeera.
After the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and the rise of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority to power, many Iraqi Sunnis feel they have been sidelined.