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.

 

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Lebanon's Jumblatt tweets his life besides politics

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives

Marzouki, Essebsi set for runoff in Tunisia presidential vote

Biden wraps up Turkey visit without breakthrough on Syria

Sudan launches investigation into claims of 'mass rape' in Darfur village

Assad urges ‘real pressure’ on backers of 'terror'

Israel eyes powers to revoke rights of Arab residents

Iraq death sentence to ex- PM threatens to damage ties with powerful tribe

Iran hardliners resist possible nuclear deal in rare protest

After failure of boycott, Bahrain Shiite opposition resorts to accusations

Tunisia votes for president in first free and multi-candidate election

Hope for change and stability as Tunisia prepares to elect new president

Saudi detainee sent home as US speeds up Guantanamo repatriations

Economy and security top agenda of Sisi’s first European tour

Benghazi attack report clears Obama administration of serious charges

Voters bet on stability in crucial Bahrain elections

Hurdles remain high as Iran and world powers press on for nuclear pact

Shebab ‘revenge’ attack leaves 28 innocents dead in Kenya

Strains between Washington and Ankara despite declared agreement

Paypal teams up with AttijariWafa Bank to boost Morocco exports

UN begins sending winter aid to Iraq

Turkey launches all-out war against bonzai drug

Turkey to build bridge across Dardanelles to ease traffic

IS launch major attack on Ramadi

Biden: You cannot think free where you cannot challenge orthodoxy

Does Abbas have enough political influence to stop violence in Jerusalem?

Turkey offers military assistance to Iraq

Bomb hits police post near Helwan University in Egypt