Last updated: 9 April, 2012

Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Hashemi arrives in Istanbul

Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad in Iraq, arrived in Istanbul Monday from Saudi Arabia, diplomatic sources told AFP.

The details of the Sunni vice president’s schedule in Turkey are not clear but he may have talks with Turkish officials, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Hashemi flew in from Riyadh after spending five days in the Sunni heavyweight kingdom as part of a regional tour he began earlier this month in Qatar.

During his visit to the kingdom, Saudi officials said that Hashemi might remain in the kingdom until his political foe, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, leaves office.

But Hashemi’s aides said he would not live in exile and would return to the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, where he has been sheltering since he was accused late last year of running a death squad.

Hashemi’s first stop in Qatar sparked criticism from Iraq’s Shiite-led government, which demanded that Doha hand him over.

The demand was refused by Doha, further straining ties between Shiite and Sunni rivals of the region.

Hashemi is wanted by the Iraqi government to face terrorism charges in Baghdad, charges he vehemently denies. He has accused Maliki of fabricating them to pave the way for a one-man rule in Iraq.