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.

 

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

France opens preliminary probe into forced labour allegations in Qatar

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation

Turkey warns Austria over decision to condemn ‘Armenian genocide’

Yemen conflict poses dangers across Gulf of Aden

Hopes for final deal on second day of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

Security tightened at Saudi shopping malls

US returns stolen Egypt artifacts

EU mulls military action against human traffickers in Libya

Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi

Arms experts warn of 'Faustian bargain' with Iran

Fresh Saudi-led air strikes target Yemen rebels

Rebel-IS clashes in Syria kill at least 42 fighters in 24 hours

Who’s more dangerous: Jihadists who left their countries or those staying at home?

France foils 'imminent' attack by jihadist sympathiser

Algeria army kills three armed Islamists west of capital

Israel removes Palestinian teen's name from memorial wall

Egyptian businessman testifies at Al-Jazeera retrial

Kenya asks donors to save world’s largest refugee camp

Sanctions, possible Congress intervention to dominate fresh nuclear talks

Arab army chiefs kick off work on building regional force

One year after agreement, Palestinian reconciliation hits rock bottom

Arab coalition resumes airstrikes against Huthi rebels

UN member states urged to protect Iraqi cultural sites

London mulls ways to help Europe's refugee crisis

Finalising of Iran nuclear deal set to begin

Saudi–led coalition declares end to Yemen air war

Palestine teenager inscribed on Israel memorial wall

Deadly attack targets busy restaurant in Somalia capital

War in Yemen raises profile of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Libya condemns 'death smugglers' after shipwreck

Sudan security agents detain opposition activist

Main Kurdish party vows to be 'sultan' Erdogan's nightmare