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.

 

Chief negotiator of Syria opposition quits over failed talks

Iraq forces enter ISIS-held Fallujah from three directions

Bahrain appeal court ramps up jail sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman

Sanctions gone, Iran drums up business with West

Plastic replaces glass in Syria window-less city

Jordan heads into elections by fall after parliament dissolution

Turkey to abandon migrant deal if no visa-free travel

Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader to life in prison

Kuwait jails members of ruling family for insulting Emir

Tunisia blames ‘terrorist elements’ for deadly landmine blast

Turkey offers to join forces for Syria operation -- without Kurds

Starving Iraqis risk all to flee crumbling rule of ISIS

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sowing ‘sedition’ in Iraq

Israel police send Netanyahu spending file to prosecutors

Bahrain court upholds life terms for five 'spies'

Investigators need 12 days to recover EgyptAir black boxes

Iraq troops prepare for final assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iraq Kurdish forces launch offensive east of Mosul

Shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim up to 700 lives in one week

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for Hajj impasse

ISIS offensive triggers mass displacement in northern Syria

Without clear roadmap, Libya unity government fails to bring change

Iran moderate conservative retains parliament speakership

Iran delegation leaves Saudi Arabia without Hajj deal

Hundreds of civilians flee Fallujah area in Iraq

Khamenei urges Iran lawmakers to resist Western 'schemes'

ISIS-rebel clashes grip northeast Syria town

New US law could sanction Hezbollah officials

Thousands of protesters gather in central Bagdad

99 lashes for partying Iranian students

100,000 Syrians trapped after shock IS advance in Aleppo

Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

Turkey party seeks constitutional change to boost president's powers

Turkey accuses US of 'hypocrisy' on Kurdish militia in Syria

Israel environment minister resigns from 'extremist government'

US-led coalition pounds IS near Raqa

Tunisia mulls allowing women to serve in army

US-backed fighters battle IS near Syria stronghold

Tunisia tourism sees 'slight recovery'

UN envoy calls for economic rescue plan for Yemen

Bahrain jails 19 for attacks on police

Up to 30 dead in shipwreck off Libya

UN says Syrians will 'starve' unless aid improves

Christian homes set ablaze in Egyptian village 'love story'

Kuwait's main opposition group ends polls boycott