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Terrorism & Security

Rejecting death sentence, Iraqi VP Hashemi calls for Iraqis to resist (+video)

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death yesterday by an Iraqi court, told the Monitor last month that despite his years of criticism of the US invasion, Iraq needs US involvement. 

By Staff writer / September 10, 2012

Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi speaks to the media during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Sept. 10, 2012. Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president on Monday declared his "absolute innocence" and rejected the terror trial that sentenced him to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals as a politically motivated sham.

Burhan Ozbilici/AP

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi discusses the charges against him during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Monday.

Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi today rejected the death sentence meted against him yesterday by an Iraqi court, calling the verdict a political vendetta by the prime minister's office.

Mr. Hashemi, who, along with his son-in-law Ahmed Qahtan, was sentenced to hang for allegedly organizing the murders of a lawyer and a Shiite security official, said the ruling was the result of a political campaign by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to eliminate his rivals and consolidate dictatorial power, reports the Associated Press.

“I totally reject and will never recognize” the verdict, Hashemi told reporters in the Turkish capital of Ankara, where he is currently living. “I consider the verdict a medal on my chest.”

“The death sentence is a price I have to pay due to love to my country and my loyalty to my people,” he added. “I reiterate that I’m innocent, and am ready to stand before a fair judicial system and not a corrupt one that is under al-Maliki’s influence.”

Reuters reports that Hashemi also called upon his countrymen to resist Mr. Maliki.  "My people, don't give Maliki and those who stand behind him the chance. They want to make this a sectarian strife. Oppose his conspiracies and provocation calmly... People should not stay silent on the unprecedented oppression in Iraq."

The announcement of Hashemi's sentence coincided with the worst day of violence in Iraq since July, as scores of people were killed and hundreds injured in a series of bombings across the country, the worst taking place in the capital city of Baghdad.  AP notes that "It's unlikely that the attacks in 13 cities were all timed to coincide with the afternoon verdict," but "taken together, the violence and verdict could energize Sunni insurgents bent on returning Iraq to the brink of civil war by targeting Shiites and undermining the government."

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