Interpol issues arrest notice for fugitive Iraq VP

Associated Press Modified: May 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm •  Published: May 8, 2012
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BAGHDAD (AP) — Interpol on Tuesday put Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president on the equivalent of its most-wanted list at the behest of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

Tariq al-Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey, is being tried in absentia in Baghdad on charges of terrorism as well as guiding and financing death squads that targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims. The Iraqi government links him to about 150 bombings, assassinations and other attacks, and says the death squads were largely composed of the vice president's bodyguards and other employees.

The trial was postponed last week after lawyers for al-Hashemi, who has denied the charges, appealed to have parliament create a special court to hear the case. The Sunni vice president has vowed not to return to face what he calls politically motivated charges.

Interpol said on its website that it has issued a so-called "red notice" for al-Hashemi, responding to a request from Baghdad. A red notice by Interpol seeks the arrest of a wanted person with a view to eventual extradition. The subjects of red notices are considered to be on the organization's most-wanted list.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said the red notice for al-Hashemi "will significantly restrict his ability to travel and cross international borders."

"It is a powerful tool that will help authorities around the world locate and arrest him," Interpol's website quoted Noble as saying.

In response, al-Hashemi issued a statement charging that the Interpol notice "was issued on baseless, politically motivated allegations levied upon me" by al-Maliki, and "International justice is being manipulated by sectarian political forces that are hijacking my country from the path of democracy." Al-Hashemi added, "I am not a criminal and I am not on the run."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Italy that al-Hashemi would likely return to Iraq after finishing medical treatment.