Last updated: 17 October, 2013

Fugitive Iraqi leader to return home if assured of fair trial

Fugitive Iraqi vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death on murder charges, said Thursday he would return home if the EU could help guarantee him a fair trial.

“My case is politically motivated and the charges are absolutely fabricated,” Hashemi told a press conference in Brussels.

“Nevertheless, I now express my readiness to return to Baghdad immediately … in (the case) the EU guarantees a fair trial,” he said.

Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim leader, was charged in 2011 with a series of murders of senior officials, including judges and lawyers, the day after US forces withdrew from Iraq.

He was tried in absentia the following year and sentenced to death.

Hashemi came to Brussels at the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

Hashemi spoke to journalists and several MEPs in a nearby press centre, arguing that the situation in Iraq under Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, a Shiite, was now worse than before the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein.

He also accused predominantly Shiite Iran of stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq.