Last updated: 4 February, 2012

Iraqi president’s tribe calls for Vice President handover

President Jalal Talabani’s tribe has called for Iraq’s fugitive vice president to be handed over to the Baghdad government to face trial, a member of the tribe said on Saturday.

Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, has been charged with running a death squad and has taken shelter since December in Talabani’s native Kurdistan, an autonomous region in northern Iraq.

The region’s government has so far declined to turn him over.

On Friday, 120 members of the Talabani tribe met in Sulaimaniyah province and “agreed to call on officials in Baghdad and Kurdistan to hand Hashemi over to justice,” Abdul Aziz Abdul Wahid Talabani told journalists by telephone.

Abdul Aziz said a delegation from the tribe met with Hashemi’s bodyguards who had confessed to killing his brother, Judge Najim Talabani, and recounted how they carried out the 2010 assassination.

“We demand that Hashemi be handed over to the court, and the tribe is now convinced that Hashemi’s bodyguards are involved in the assassination of the judge,” said Abdul Aziz.

The interior ministry said 16 of Hashemi’s guards had been arrested following confessions from some of their colleagues, and that they had also confessed after being detained.

The accusations against Hashemi come amid a wider row between the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, of which he is a member, and the Shiite-led government.

Iraqiya began a boycott of parliament and the cabinet in December in protest at Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s alleged centralisation of power. It has since called for Maliki to either respect a power-sharing deal or quit.

The prime minister, a Shiite, has also said that his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlak should be sacked after the latter said that Maliki was “worse than Saddam Hussein.”

Iraqiya’s MPs returned to parliament on Tuesday, easing the crisis, but it has not yet decided on a return of its ministers to the cabinet.