Fugitive Iraqi VP Speaks Out About His Death Sentence, Maliki

Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death, spoke with Haberturk Editor Fatih Altayli. He explained his problems with Prime Minister Maliki, expressed gratitude to Turkey and expressed hope that US will review its support for Maliki.

al-monitor Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi gestures during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, September 16, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal.

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Sep 17, 2012

Tariq al-Hashemi, the Iraqi vice president who has been sentenced to death, spoke with Haberturk Editor Fatih Altayli about the death sentence and Iraq's future.

On the death sentence

Let me be very frank, I was deeply surprised on Dec. 19 of last year, the day when the warrant for my arrest was issued. Here we are talking about a singular incident where only one individual was involved. A car was stolen, the license plate was not changed and it was used in a terrorist act. There are 300 officers under my command. These kinds of incidents can happen.

The arrest warrant was issued on Dec. 19, just after I arrived in Erbil. I was very surprised. I was shocked that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had issued such a warrant. He needs to consult with the president, if there is any proof. I have legal immunity granted by the constitution, yet they ignored this legal provision. They went so far as to issue a death sentence. The surprising part about this incident is its timing. This verdict came on September 9. They dismissed the previous judge and appointed a new one. This was the first trial conducted by the newly appointed judge. Here we are talking about a judge who is not familiar with details of the case. They reached a verdict within less than 24 hours. There was not even time for defense.

The death sentence is not the final verdict. We will pursue this issue. I will continue to involve myself in political issues. I assume that after a while Maliki will return to his normal position. My people are in need of Tariq Hashemi's leadership. Elections will be held in 2012. I thank God that Maliki's attack against me has made me even more popular among my people. It is very likely that I win the elections.

The accusations

Serious misconduct and torture accompanied this investigation. The accusation relates to the murder of a lawyer. It is claimed that my bodyguard killed this person. They claim that I ordered this killing and paid my bodyguard $200 for this execution. It is said that I sent a thank-you note. Why would I order the killing of a lawyer? There should be a motive for me to commit this crime. I am the vice president, why would I get involved in these kinds of incidents?

His brothers were killed

My brothers were murdered, and their killers are still at large. If I had wanted someone dead, I would have ordered the killing of those people. Between 2003 and 2007, there were separatist clashes. I lost three of my brothers during these events. Why weren't these trials concluded? I couldn't even ask this question.

What is the issue with Maliki?

The problem with Iraq is Maliki's style of governing. I don't agree with him on economic concerns or on political processes. The administrative council, president and vice president work as a team. However, we could not work together, as Maliki had different desires. He believes in tyranny, not in democracy. I tried to convince him many times ... to be more just and stand against discrimination. Since 2006, Iraq has steered away from democracy and is turning into an autocracy. I was against this happening. 

Iraq had a great opportunity. We had the chance to hold the presidency of the Arab League for a year. However, when the summit ended, Maliki went against the will of the participants and supported Assad. 

In response to suggestions that the sentence was a message to Turkey

I find these comments to be exaggerated. I don't want to be an obstacle hindering relations between Turkey and Iraq.

I am happy to be in Turkey. I can never deny my gratitude to Turkey for its services and help. Davutoglu called me on phone and said, “Don't worry, I support you.” I will never ever forget this.

Regarding Maliki's attitude toward Turkey

This issue is related to Maliki's personality, his disastrous policies for Iraq and his relations with neighbors and the Islamic world. Everybody suffers from that. I am deeply sorry to see my country’s prime minister acting this way.

Concerning relations with the US

The US and Iran support Maliki. They are trying to prolong this illegitimate government. 

I have no direct contact with them. I used to have a very close relationship with US Vice President Joe Biden. These relations were interrupted. We have been in contact indirectly. Unfortunately, the US supports Maliki. Yet, there are consequences to this attitude, and these consequences will have an impact on Iraq's future. I hope that the US will review its attitude.

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