BAGHDAD — An Iraqi court sentenced fugitive Vice-President Tareq al Hashemi to death for a second time yesterday on a charge of involvement in a plot to assassinate an interior ministry official, a judicial spokesman said.
Hashemi, who fled to Turkey earlier this year when Iraqi authorities sought his arrest, was subsequently sentenced to death in absentia on charges of running death squads, which he denies.
“The central criminal court issued a death sentence against Tareq al Hashemi and his son in law for incitement to attach a sticky bomb to the car of an interior ministry officer,” said Abdul-Sattar al Birqdar of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council. Hashemi could not immediately be reached for comment on the latest sentence.
Hashemi has said the first case was built on testimony extracted under torture and accuses Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki of conducting a political witch-hunt against opponents.
A series of explosions hit Iraq on the same day of Hashemi’s first court sentence, triggering one of the worst spates of bloodshed this year with more than 100 killed across the country.
Meanwhile, figures released yesterday showed that levels of violence in Iraq last month dropped off dramatically despite a string of attacks over the Eid al Adha holiday that were claimed by Al Qaeda. Monthly casualty tolls compiled separately by government officials and AFP both showed a significant decline, dropping to the lowest level since the beginning of the summer.
A total of 144 people were killed — 88 civilians, 31 policemen and 25 soldiers — in October, according to figures compiled by Iraq’s ministries of health, interior and defence. An AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials, meanwhile, put the figure at 136 dead.
Overall, 264 people were wounded, including 110 civilians, 92 policemen and 62 soldiers, the government figures showed.— Reuters/AFP