Al-Maliki has no respect for any laws– Iraqi VP

08/05/2012By Ma'ad Fayad

London, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi revealed “I am sad because there has been a decline in the integrity of the Iraqi judiciary, after it had previously been a model of fairness and justice.”

He also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to "release his grip on the judiciary, so that I can enjoy my legal rights, including my right to transfer the case that has been raised against me by al-Maliki to the courts in Kirkuk or the Kurdistan Region, under Article 55 of the Iraqi law.”

Al-Hashimi was speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Istanbul just days after Baghdad begun his trial in absentia on charges of guiding and financing death squads that targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims. Iraqi Vice President al-Hashimi – one of the nation’s highest ranking Sunni politician – claims that these charges are politically motivated.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has sought to raise the stakes by requesting that Interpol place the fugitive Iraqi vice president on its most-wanted list. Interpol complied with Baghdad’s request and issued a so-called “red notice” for Tariq al-Hashimi. A red notice by Interpol seeks the arrest or provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to extradition. Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble told the press that the red notice that has been issued for al-Hashimi “will significantly restrict his ability to travel and cross international borders” however it is not known, at this time, whether Ankara will seek to fulfil the red notice and arrest the Iraqi vice president or not.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat before the issuance of the Interpol red notice, al-Hashimi stressed “I had hoped that the court would look into my request to apply Article 6/93 [to my case]. This article calls for cases against figures who occupy key posts – from the post of minister to the post of president of the republic – to be heard by the federal court."

He added “there is a precedent to this request…more than one year ago, the head of a publishing house – an Iraqi national – filed a law suit against me, and the court of cassation – whose ruling are binding – ruled that the case should be heard by the federal court. Today, however, the political stand toward me has changed, and the court of cassation and the judiciary have contradicted themselves and agreed that a case against me may be heard by the ordinary criminal courts. This represents double standards. This is clear evidence that the judiciary is politicized."

The Iraqi Vice President stressed “this case has been politicized since the beginning, and it is awaiting a political solution. I respect the judiciary and do not consider myself to be above the law, provided that there is a just judiciary and a security climate that protects my life and the lives of the members of my protection detail who have been arrested in Baghdad and whose innocence I do not doubt."
Al-Hashimi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “when a just and non-politicized judiciary exists, my security is ensured, and my constitutional rights guaranteed, then I will appear before any court – even in Baghdad – because I am certain of my innocence."

He added “al-Maliki has inflicted grave damage on the prestige of the presidency of the republic and encroached on the president of the republic [Jalal Talabani] and his powers as the ‘Higher Command of the Armed Forces’, at a time when he – as ‘Commander-in-Chief’ of the armed forces – is the second most senior military figure. However, he [al-Maliki] has no respect for any laws, the constitution, or any regulations."

Al-Hashimi stressed “he [al-Maliki] continues to pursue me; he has shut down my office, dissolved my protection detail and arrested more than 100 members of this detail. He pursued my relatives, friends, and members of my party, and prevented me from disposing of my properties even though I continue to hold my post as vice president of the republic. He will be legally prosecuted for these illegal actions."
He added "al-Maliki has behaved in an extremely aggressive manner towards me, full of hatred and malice…and nobody has confronted him about this…he is the one who is controlling the law, acquitting criminals and accusing the innocent.”

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “al-Maliki today is targeting a specific group of people, including myself, Deputy Prime Minister Salah al-Mutlaq and others. However, his transgressions are affecting all groups [in Iraq], including the Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, and Arabs” adding “this list will only grow longer if the wise fail to address the situation because this will end in a catastrophe that will devastate Iraq and its people."

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat before the issuance of the Interpol red notice, al-Hashimi revealed “I was supposed to return to Erbil on Tuesday last week...where I was residing as a guest of [Kurdistan Region President] Massoud Barzani’s brother. However shortly before my departure, I received appeals from some of the brothers in the political groups [in Kurdistan] who asked me to delay my departure in order to ensure that the media’s interests remained on the political leader’s initiative in Erbil…rather than my return to the capital of the Kurdistan Region, therefore I chose to wait.” He added “I am extremely eager to return to Iraq, to Baghdad in particular, to exercise my role in serving the citizens and my country. However, I will return to Erbil soon…to undertake my duties from there.”