Interpol Issues Alert For Iraq’s Fugitive Vice President

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Interpol has delivered a “red notice” for Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tariq al-Hashemi. A Sunni politician, Hashemi is accused of running a death squad that launched attacks on Shia officials and Shia neighborhoods following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He has denied the charges and said they are politically motivated.
 The red notice came after a formal appeal from the Iraqi government. The notice will further impede Hashemi’s ability to travel across international borders. Interpol’s Secretary General Ronald Noble praised Iraq’s handling of the case, saying that it showed a strong commitment to his organization’s role in global law enforcement. Analysts noted that while the red alert is not an actual arrest warrant, many Interpol member countries would likely place the target in custody. Turkey, where Mr. Hashemi has sought refuge has not offered a formal response.
 
The Vice President fled Iraq in December through the northern part of the country where he was reportedly offered protection by Kurdish officials. He was last known to be Istanbul. In a statement released on his website he declared an interest in finding a political solution to the crisis, but said that he does not believe he would receive a fair trial in Baghdad. “I respect the [Iraqi] judiciary and I am not above the law,” he wrote in a statement. He further added, “If a fair trial is possible, not politicized, and there are security guarantees and guarantees of my constitutional rights, I will stand before any court, even if it is in Baghdad because I am sure of my innocence.” He said that he had planned to travel to Kurdish controlled northern Iraq on Tuesday but decided not to after requests that he delay the trip by unnamed sources.

Hashemi has maintained his innocence and said he fears for his safety. “My life in Baghdad [is] in high risk,” he told reporters.

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