Fugitive Iraqi vice president’s lawyers quit unfair trial

Updated 21 May 2012

Fugitive Iraqi vice president’s lawyers quit unfair trial

BAGHDAD: Lawyers for Iraq’s fugitive vice president charged with running death squads that targeted Shiite officials and civilians quit the case yesterday in protest after judges would not let them present evidence at the trial.
Tariq Al-Hashemi’s defense team demanded to be allowed to pull phone records and appointment calendars to help refute earlier testimony that the vice president and his son-in-law had ordered bodyguards to kill security forces and government officials.
Lawyer Muayad Obeid Al-Ezzi said the records could prove that Al-Hashemi, one of Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunni officials in the Shiite-led government, had either been out of the country or not in communication with the bodyguards at the time he allegedly ordered the assassinations.
But a three-judge panel rejected the request, and ruled that last week’s testimony by three bodyguards who swore they were given money to kill Al-Hashemi’s enemies was strong enough to negate any further evidence.
The judges also said Al-Hashemi could have arranged for the attacks while he was outside the country.
With that, Al-Ezzi and the rest of the defense team walked out.
“We decided to give up the case after the court ignored our demands,” Al-Ezzi said over the telephone after leaving the courtroom. “We do not want to be part of this unfair trial.”
For months, Al-Hashemi has claimed he will not get a fair trial on the terror charges, which he denies and calls politically motivated. He is in Istanbul and has refused to defend himself in Baghdad’s criminal court.
The case threatens to paralyze Iraq’s government by fueling simmering Sunni and Kurdish resentments against the Shiite prime minister, who critics claim is monopolizing power.
It also has strained relations between Iraq and several of its mainly Sunni neighbors, including the Gulf states and Turkey.
Last week, three of Al-Hashemi’s former bodyguards testified that they were ordered and paid to kill security officials and plant roadside bombs. They said the orders either came from Al-Hashemi’s son-in-law, who worked as his office manager, or from the vice president himself.
In an Associated Press interview a few days later, Al-Hashemi said he believes his bodyguards were pressured into testifying, and hinted then he would withdraw his defense in the trial that he claims amounts to a legal railroading.
If convicted, Al-Hashemi could face the death penalty. Judges on Sunday appointed two new lawyers for Al-Hashemi and his son-in-law.
Al-Ezzi said his defense team was willing to return to court — but only of the evidence is allowed and the judges agree to transfer the case to a special tribunal appointed by Parliament.

Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

Updated 26 April 2018

Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

LONDON: Four Arab ambassadors have called on Qatar to improve relations with its neighbors, change its attitude and stop its support for extremism, terror and destabilization in the region.

The four ambassadors of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Nawwa), Bahrain (Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa), the UAE (Suleiman Al-Mazroui) and Egypt (Nasser Kamel) co-wrote a letter published on Wednesday in the Financial Times to answer an FT lead article titled “Qatar siege is meaningless.”

The ambassadors stressed in the letter that their governments had no plans to incorporate Qatar, as the FT claimed, but all they hoped for is that the Doha government committed to the international criteria to fight terrorism and “stop its support for terror and extremism in the region.”

In the letter, the four ambassadors reminded the paper that the prime minister of Qatar attended the wedding of the son of Abdel Rahman Al-Nueimi,who is listed on a US terror list, and is the main conduit to Al-Qaeda in Iraq where, according to the US, he funnelled millions of US dollars to the organization there.

The ambassadors added that Al-Nueimi is one of many sponsors of terror living and working in Qatar.

The ambassadors drew the readers’ attention to Qatar’s “double standard behavior” — saying one thing to the West, and doing the opposite.

They concluded the letter by demonstrating Qatar’s “duplicity.”

They said that Qatar has recently intensified the use of its media and PR to promote and support terror in the Middle East generally and in Saudi Arabia especially.

Recently Qatari broadcasters opened their airwaves to Houthi militia in Yemen and its propaganda calling for attacking Saudi Arabia.

In conclusion the ambassadors called on Doha to quit its public relations campaign and change its attitude — only then would the siege be over.