Iraqi court orders arrest of organisers of Kurdish independence vote

An Iraqi court in east Baghdad ordered the arrest of the organisers of last month's vote for Kurdish independence. PHOTO: REUTERS

BAGHDAD (AFP) - An Iraqi court on Wednesday (Oct 11) ordered the arrest of the chairman and two other members of the commission that organised last month's vote for Kurdish independence, a judicial official said.

The court in east Baghdad acted in response to a request from the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar told AFP.

The court issued warrants against chairman Hendren Saleh and members Yari Hajji Omar and Wahida Yofo Hermez.

It ruled that the three "organised the referendum in contravention of a ruling by the Iraqi Supreme Court", which had found the vote unconstitutional and ordered it called off.

The Supreme Court ruling came one week before the Sept 25 referendum - which saw voters overwhelmingly back independence - but the organisers went ahead with it regardless.

On Monday, Baghdad unleashed a legal barrage against Kurdish officials and sought to seize key businesses in a fresh bid to tighten the screws.

It had already severed ties between Kurdistan and the outside world by cutting international air links to the region.

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