Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death on Sunday. He told the press that the murder conviction and death sentence was a sham and is politically motivated.
Al-Hashemi has been on the run since the Shiite-led Iraqi government issued terror charges against him the day after the United States withdrew from the country. The Iraqi Vice-President self-exiled himself to Turkey and now refuses to return to his native country. Al-Hashemi first declared that he was in Turkey undergoing medical treatment.
On December 18th, the day arrest warrants were issued for al-Haashemi’s arrest, local television stations began airing footage of alleged confessions made by the bodyguards of the vice-president.
An Iraqi court convicted the Vice-President and his son in absentia on charges that he oversaw death squads that were responsible for killing political opponents as well as Shiite religious pilgrims. The government has accused him of playing a role in at least 150 bombings, assassinations, and various other attacks taking place from 2005 until 2011.
The verdict was met with one of the bloodiest days in that country since the U.S. pulled its troops out. More than 100 people were killed in attacks on Sunday. Car bombs exploded in at least ten cities and gunmaen attacked and killed Iraqi soldiers at an army post north of Baghdad. Although no one has stepped forward to take responsibilty for the attacks, it is widely suspected that al-Qaeda militants are to blame.
Al-Hashemi was sentenced to death by hanging.