Fugitive Iraq VP rejects murder conviction, sentence
ANKARA (AFP) - Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on Monday rejected his murder conviction and death sentence and ruled out returning home until he is guaranteed "security and a fair trial".
"While reconfirming my absolute innocence and that of my guards, I totally reject and will never recognise the unfair, the unjust, the politically motivated verdict, which was expected from the outset of this funny trial," Hashemi told reporters. He spoke in Arabic and English.
Hashemi branded the death sentence he received from the Baghdad court "the final phase of the theatrical campaign" carried out by his political rival, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and "his politicised judiciary." The vice-president's remarks came a day after an Iraqi court sentenced him to death by hanging for the murder of a lawyer and a brigadier general and demanded his return back home within 30 days.
Hashemi said he would consider going back to Baghdad only if his security was guaranteed and if he was assured a fair trial. "The most important issue is a fair trial. If that is guaranteed and ... if the United Natiions assures me a fair trial in Baghdad, I am ready to attend," he said.