— Iraq’s Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, accused of running a death squad, said Friday that he has no faith in the Iraqi justice system and fears for his life.
Hashemi, one of Iraq’s top Sunni Arab officials, is being tried in absentia in a Baghdad court on charges he and several of his bodyguards ran a death squad.
Hashemi and several bodyguards are accused of killing six judges and senior officials, including a lawyer and the director general of the security ministry.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi in December after the US completed its pullout, and he first sought refuge with Iraqi Kurds.
The autonomous population refused to hand him over to Baghdad authorities and he then fled to Turkey, after first visiting Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Hashemi’s trial began Thursday, but was delayed until May 10. His lawyers want the case to be heard by a special court and not by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
Hashemi supporters have said they fear the trial will otherwise be politicized.
The decision to charge Hashemi sparked a political crisis that saw the vice president’s bloc boycott cabinet and parliament over accusations Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, a Shiite, was monopolizing power. — AFP