BAGHDAD, (AFP) – An Iraqi court will next month hear concluding remarks from prosecutors and the defence team in the death squad trial of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a judge said on Tuesday.
The trial, which began in May, has been over the assassinations of two security officials and a lawyer, the first of around 150 charges levelled against Hashemi and his bodyguards.
A statement posted on the vice president’s website on August 10 said he was in Doha, Qatar. He is being tried in absentia.
“We decided to postpone the trial until September 9, after we heard the testimony of all the defendants, and the next session will be for the prosecutor and the defence team (to present their closing remarks),” said the judge presiding over the case.
Hashemi, one of the country’s most senior Sunni officials, has dismissed all the charges against him as politically motivated, and the accusations have raised sectarian tensions when the accusations were first made by Iraq’s Shiite-led government.
He fled to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region when the charges were made in December, as US troops were pulling out of the country.
The trial, which began May 15, has previously heard testimony that silenced pistols were found in raids on Hashemi’s house and that of his son-in-law, while bodyguards and other officials say they were offered money, or were coerced, into carrying out attacks on the vice president’s orders.
After fleeing to Kurdistan, which refused to hand him over, Hashemi embarked on a regional tour that took him to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.