Iraq demands Kurds hand over vice president for trial

March 4, 2012 14:37


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BAGHDAD - Iraq's government said on Sunday it had demanded the autonomous Kurdish region hand over Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi for trial on charges of running death squads, a case that caused a political crisis when US troops withdrew last year.

Iraq issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi, one of the top politicians from the Sunni minority, in December on the eve of the withdrawal of the last US troops.That triggered a political crisis - with Hashemi's Sunni-backed bloc announcing a boycott of parliament and the Shi'ite-led cabinet - and raised fears of a renewal of the sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-07.

The crisis has abated somewhat in recent weeks, with most members of Hashemi's Iraqiya bloc agreeing to lift the boycott.

But the vice president remains holed up in the northern Kurdish zone, refusing to return to Baghdad where he says he would not receive a fair trial.

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