First Published: 2012-06-21

 

Hashemi’s trial sparks division over Iraqi judiciary

 

Trial of Sunni Vice President Hashemi sets off division over Iraq's judiciary, with his supporters criticising it as politicised while others defend courts.

 

Middle East Online

By Mohamad Ali Harissi – BAGHDAD

Hashemi trial: Politicised or neutral?

The trial of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has sparked division over Iraq's judiciary, with his supporters criticising it as politicised while others defend the courts.

Hashemi, a member of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq after being accused in December of running a death squad, and subsequently left the country.

Hashemi, his staff and his bodyguards face around 150 charges, which he insists are politically motivated. He is being tried in absentia.

"All evidence during the past months indicates that the judiciary was not successful in many things, and the effect on it of politicisation is clear," Hamed al-Mutlak, a leading MP in the Iraqiya bloc and brother to one of Iraq's deputy prime ministers, said.

"We need a separation of powers and to define responsibilities and stop the interference in the work of the judiciary, which is not up to the standard of the Iraqis, though Iraqis were one of the first peoples to adopt laws," Mutlak said.

Earlier this year, a judge sought to have the immunity from prosecution lifted from another leading Iraqiya MP, Haidar al-Mullah, after he accused the judge of being influenced by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

When asked about the case, Mullah said that "there is an involvement from the executive authority in the work of judiciary."

However, the Iraqi judiciary also has its defenders, especially among allies of the country's premier.

"The judiciary is very neutral and the procedures are correct, legally and constitutionally," said Alia Nsayef, an MP from the Free Iraqiya bloc, which broke away from Iraqiya and is allied with Maliki.

"Many lawmakers were briefed on the investigations and they noticed through the confessions ... and the evidence of the crimes and the assassinations that the crimes are real," she said.

Judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar also defended the courts.

"The accusations that we face during the period of Hashemi's trial are because of the conflict of interest among politicians," Bayraqdar said.

"The trial is public and if we had anything to hide, we would do it in a different way," he said.

"The judiciary in Iraq is like any judiciary in the world -- it is accused of being politicised by the accused people or those who do not like the sentences."

Hashemi's trial opened in May. The next hearing is scheduled for July 8.

The accusations against Hashemi came amid a broader series of intertwined political crises that began with accusations that Maliki was centralising power and moving toward dictatorship, and have escalated into calls for him to be removed from power.

The Hashemi case is not the first time the Iraqi judiciary has been accused of politicisation in recent years.

The Iraqi courts were accused of being under American influence during the trials of officials from President Saddam Hussein's regime, and especially that of Saddam himself, who was sentenced to death and executed in 2006.

"The judiciary was really under American influence during Saddam's trial and today, it moved from American influence to the influence of the political blocs and their struggles," according to independent Kurdish MP Mahmud Othman.

 

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

Unstable dam affecting Mosul recapture

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended

Turkey summons US envoy over Syria Kurds row

Jihadist attacks bring Egypt's tourist industry to its knees

‘Hell’ falling on Aleppo

Enormous challenges emerge after full liberation of Ramadi

Hamas fighter dies in latest tunnel collapse

Aleppo siege spells trouble for the West

Egypt policeman jailed for beating vet to death

How many civilians are living under 'surrender or starve' sieges in Syria?

NATO to consider policing refugee crisis

Iran deal will delay bomb up to 15 years

Top spy warns homegrown extremists pose biggest danger to US

UN to Turkey: Open borders to stranded Syria refugees

From Muslim Chechnya to ISIS: Spies collect intelligence to help Russia

Kurdish leader accuses Ankara of 'massacre' over Cizre operation

Kremlin rebukes Merkel over criticism of Russia air strikes in Syria

Nine killed in Damascus car bomb attack

Approval of reformists raises potential for change in Iran

Saudi Patriot missile shoots down Scud fired from Yemen

Syria artists find inspiration in haunting ruins of Homs

Pentagon chief seeks anti-IS support in Europe

Border camps full as Syria families escape regime offensive

Iraq military advance reopens Ramadi-Baghdad road

IEA holds OPEC responsible for oil supply glut

Iraqi woman charged over US hostage death

Mubarak era ‘reappears’ five years after his ouster