Hashemi will attend trial if Maliki resigns

23/01/2012 13:03 BAGHDAD, Jan. 23 (AKnews) - Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi says he will attend his trial in Baghdad if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki resigns. Hashemi believes this is the only way to take political pressure off the judiciary.

"The judiciary is my only way to prove my innocence," Hashemi said in a statement. "I am not afraid of the judiciary but I fear it because of those who dominate it and took away its independence and politicized it to rob the freedom of Iraqis."

"I am ready to attend the court in any place that my political opponent does not have power, and if he insists on Baghdad then I will accept on the condition that he raises his hand from the judiciary and there is no way to do that except by announcing his resignation."

"My request is legal and objective and it is my right, but my opponent and not the judiciary refuses to avoid the scandal that will be revealed sooner or later, when the Iraqi people know the illegal means adopted to take false confessions. If there is material evidences that proves the allegations, transferring the issue to Kurdistan wouldn't have faced illegal and unjustified rejection."

Hashemi says he has evidences to respond to what he describes as fabricated confessions which he has been keeping up his sleeve.

"A group of lawyers and representatives from the legal committee were not able to meet my bodyguards and the Judicial Council said Maliki would not allow it."

On Dec. 19 the Baghdad courts issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi charging him with terrorism. He is accused of using his bodyguards as a kill squad, targeting Shiite politicians and army commanders. Iraqi state TV broadcast confessions of members of the Vice President's protection detail. The officers allege Hashemi paid them $3,000 USD (3.5 million IQD) for each assassination going back to 2009.

The Vice President strenuously denies the charges and has been in Kurdistan Region since, avoiding prosecution. He expressed his surprise at the rapidity of the investigation despite the complexity of the case. The announcement of his indictment came the day after the U.S. military formally left Iraq after a long period of drawing down their troop numbers.

The confessions broadcast raised widespread criticism while members of the judiciary confirmed that the presentation of confessions is contrary to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."

By AKnews Staff