12 Sep 2012

Turkey refuses to hand over fugitive

5:35 am on 12 September 2012

Turkey says it will not hand over Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death in absentia for running death squads.

The Turkish government says he can stay in Turkey for as long as he likes.

Mr Hashemi, who has been in Turkey since April, was found guilty of running death squads by a court on Sunday.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said it was "out of the question" that Mr Hashemi had been involved in the crimes he was accused of, insisting: "We will not hand him over."

Mr Hashemi has dismissed the case against him as politically motivated.

On Monday, he said he would be willing to face a "fair trial", but Iraqi courts were under Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's influence.

He accused Mr Maliki's government of corruption, discrimination, and of fuelling sectarianism.

The Iraqi government issued a warrant for Hashemi's arrest on 19 December last year, the day after the last US troops left the country.

Hashemi first took refuge in the Kurdish north of the country, before fleeing to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and then on to Turkey.