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Turkey stands by Iraqi vice president

Sept. 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM   |   Comments

ANKARA, Turkey, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A death sentence issued to fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is "obviously" a politically motivated action, a Turkish diplomat said.

An Iraqi court sentenced the vice president to death in absentia Sunday on charges he was operating a death squad in the country. Hashemi took refuge in Kurdish-run northern Iraq before leaving the country for Turkey following the filing of formal charges in December. He's the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.

A Turkish diplomatic source told daily newspaper Hurriyet the sentencing was politically motivated.

"This is obviously a political decision," the source said on condition of anonymity. "Sentencing the country's vice president to death is an absurd situation."

Hashemi requested U.N. intervention in his case, saying those who offered evidence against him did so during interrogation techniques that he said amounted to torture.

The Turkish government said it wouldn't extradite the vice president to Iraq. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured since U.S. forces left Iraq last year. A spokesman for the Iraqi government had said ties with Ankara were under examination following a series of diplomatic meetings between Turkish officials and those from the Kurdish north.

Hashemi told the Turkish newspaper last month he was expecting the death sentence. The judicial system in Iraq, he said, has lost its legitimacy under Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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