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Iraqi VP refuses to recognize Baghdad court | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi played down reports that his name and position have been removed from the official website of the Iraqi presidency, stressing that such reports are not true. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Istanbul, al-Hashemi stressed that “I have been informed that my name has been removed from the Iraqi presidency website, however my staff have investigated this matter and it has been clarified that this website is in the process of being updated.”

News reports were issued yesterday claiming that the Iraqi presidency had removed al-Hashemi’s name from its official website the day after his trial in absentia began in Baghdad. At the time of publication, Iraqi presidency website contains profiles of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Khazir Al-Khazai and Chief of Staff Naseer al-Ani, whilst Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi’s name and image were not present. A source within the Iraqi presidency, speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “this website is currently in the process of being updated, and the technicians are still in the process”.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat “this issue is not important to me, for I remain the Iraqi Vice President according to the constitution, I have not handed in my resignation and I was not appointed in my position by any figure, but rather I was elected by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, and it alone is capable of withdrawing confidence from me.”

Al-Hashemi also revealed that he remains in contact with the Iraqi presidency, although he acknowledged that the extent of this contact has declined since he left the country for Turkey. Al-Hashemi said “the last communication took place between myself and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and this was one week before I travelled to Turkey” adding “when I was in Erbil I would phone him [Talabani] from time to time, and when there is a need for me to contact him, I will.”

In his first comments about his trial in Baghdad on charges of directing death squads which began in absentia on Tuesday, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “I was not surprised by the decisions and course that this trial has taken, I expected everything that happened, I expected their adherence to the fabricated confessions that they forcibly obtained from some members of my protection detail and staff by coercion and torture” adding “they will be relying on these false confessions.” The Iraqi Vice President also revealed that “some members of my protection detail were subject to severe torture which ultimately led to their deaths.”

Al-Hashemi asserted that “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fears the Iraqi people finding out the truth, and this is what I want to happen and why I want the court to be transferred to Kirkuk or Erbil, in order to ensure protection, safety and justice to members of my protection detail and staff, so that any witnesses or defendant will not be subject to torture or intimidation. This court transfer would take place according to Article 55 of the Penal Code, and I repeat my insistence that I will only attend a court where safety and justice is guaranteed, and this cannot happen in any court in the Green Zone.”

He added “al-Maliki has prohibited this, telling the media that he will not allow a court transfer until after the judiciary has made its decision, whilst the judiciary issued the decision which was sought by the prime minister.”

The Iraqi Vice President also stressed “I do not recognize this court, so long as I am deprived of my right to appear in a court outside of Baghdad to prove my innocence and the innocence of the other unjustly accused defendants…they have accused myself and members of my protection detail of any and all crimes committed by unknown parties.”

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the international community is responsible for its silence about what is happening with regards the injustice, detentions and torture of Iraqis…and this was confirmed by the latest Human Rights Watch report about the Sharaf Prison in Baghdad’s Green Zone, as well as the actions of the Iraqi security apparatus in the country’s secret prisons. The report says that what is happening in Iraq represents a return to a totalitarian regime, namely the same kind of regime that US troops came to Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi people from…so where is the international community regarding what is happening in Iraq today?” He described al-Maliki as “an unjust tyrant”, asking “can we allow this tyrant to do whatever he likes?”

As for the rapprochement that is taking place between Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and al-Maliki, the Iraqi Vice President said “I do not know if there is a move towards alliance between the Iraqi National Dialogue Front that is led by Saleh al-Mutlaq’s brother and al-Mailki, however I warn that whenever al-Maliki feels weak and under pressure, he makes alliances and agreements, however when he recovers his strength, he goes back on all agreements…this is what happened with all of his alliances and agreements, including the Erbil Agreement that brought him into power.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had recently announced that al-Mutlaq’s case is “political, not judicial”, whilst for his part al-Mutlaq had moderated his rhetoric against al-Maliki. In an interview with Al-Iraqiya TV, al-Mutlaq said “of course, there was coolness and problems with the prime minister…but despite what happened I don’t hold a grudge against him” adding “there were differences of opinion on the way to govern the country, and brother al-Maliki is well aware that the direction that the country is moving in must be corrected, and we must all work together to do this.”