Iraq's Hashemi to stay in Turkey

May 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, May 9 (UPI) -- Turkey's deputy prime minister said there are no plans to turn fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi over to authorities.

Interpol issued a Red Notice for Hashemi at the request of the Iraqi government. The Sunni leader is accused of overseeing a death squad in Iraq.

Hashemi said Tuesday the charges against him are baseless and part of a sectarian game played by Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ankara isn't obligated by the Red Notice to turn Hashemi over to authorities. The vice president is under special protection in Ankara, saying he's been the subject of recent death threats.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told members of the Turkish Parliament during a Wednesday session Ankara "would not hand in someone who we support," daily newspaper Today's Zaman reports.

Hashemi said the international justice system is being manipulated by Maliki. He claims any charges against him were extracted from his bodyguards under duress.

"I am not a criminal, and I am not on the run," he was quoted as saying.

Hashemi left Iraq shortly after charges were filed against him in December, days after U.S. forces ended their mission there.

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