Iraqi VP says he is innocent, terror trial a sham
By Lara Jakes and Sinan Salaheddin, AP
September 11, 2012, 12:03 am TWN
BAGHDAD--Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president on Monday declared his "absolute innocence" in a terror trial that had sentenced him to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals, and rejected the conviction against him as a politically motivated sham.
Tariq al-Hashemi, who fled Iraq after the government brought charges against him, said he will not return to appeal the verdict unless he can be assured of a fair day in court.
Speaking from his exile in Turkey, al-Hashemi said a fair trial would be impossible in Baghdad and accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — a Shiite and the vice president's longtime foe — of manipulating the courts against him as part of a political vendetta.
"The verdict is unjust, politicized, illegitimate and I will not recognize it," al-Hashemi told reporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara. "But I put it as a medal of honor on my chest because it was al-Maliki, not anyone else, behind it. I'm proud that it is al-Maliki, and not anyone else, to target me."
"The death sentence is a price I have to pay due to my love for my country and my loyalty to my people," he added. "I reiterate that I'm innocent, and am ready to stand before a fair judicial system and not a corrupt one that is under al-Maliki's influence."
Asked directly if he will return to Baghdad within 30 days to seek a retrial, as is his right under Iraqi law, al-Hashemi said: "I'm not going, regardless of the time scale that has been offered to me."
Spokesmen for al-Maliki and the Iraqi government could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.