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Hashemi says he is ready for trial in Baghdad with European guarantees

Iraq's former Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia, said that he is ready to return "immediately" to Baghdad to appear before a court if the European Union pledged to ensure a fair trial for him and his family.

During a conference in Brussels, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party explained that he is "ready now and immediately to appear before a court of justice that protects me and my suffering family and provides us with a true chance to prove our innocence."

Hashemi was sentenced to death in absentia in September 2012 after being convicted of killing judges, a lawyer and a general, charges that he denies categorically and claiming he is the victim of a political prosecution headed by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.

Hashemi said, "The chances of just litigation are non-existent in Iraq when Chief Justice Medhat Al-Mahmoud is clearly complicit with the Prime Minister's Office, thus distorting the image and reputation of Iraq both domestically and internationally."

Hashemi, who has been issued an international arrest warrant, was able to reach Brussels with an official invitation from the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, however he has been unable to hold a press conference within the premises of the European Parliament.

Close sources said that Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, officially prevented Hashemi from entering the parliament under "pressure by a member state of the European Union". Hashemi finally held the conference at the European Headquarters in Brussels.

During the conference, Hashemi revealed documents and videos proving the involvement of Al-Maliki and his office in acts of torture and serious violations of human rights. He explained that: "most of the detainees are innocent while the real criminals are still free with the knowledge of the security services. The major proof is the continued collapse of security; the incidents, assassinations and sectarian displacement, all with the support of Al-Maliki's security services."

Hashemi is a prominent Sunni political leader in Iraq and an outspoken opponent of Al-Maliki.

Following the accusations against him in December 2011 and the issuance of a warrant for his arrest, Al-Hashemi fled to the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and then travelled to Qatar and Saudi Arabia before moving to Turkey.

Middle EastNews
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