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Middle east

Interpol seeks arrest of fugitive Iraqi vice-president

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-08

Interpol on Tuesday published an international notice seeking the arrest of fugitive Iraqi Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashemi (pictured) on suspicion of financing terrorist attacks in Iraq.

AFP - Interpol said Tuesday it had issued an international Red Notice for the arrest of Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi "on suspicion of guiding and financing terrorist attacks".

"The Red Notice for al-Hashemi represents a regional and international alert to all of Interpol's 190 member countries to seek their help in locating and arresting him," the Lyon-based international police agency said.

Interpol said the notice, its highest possible alert, was issued following an Iraqi warrant made "as part of an investigation in which security forces seized bombing materials and arrested individuals".

Hashemi, who is being tried in absentia in a Baghdad court and was last known to be in Istanbul, is charged along with several bodyguards with killing six judges and senior officials.

He has challenged the legitimacy of the trial and said his life is at risk in Baghdad.

"The Interpol Red Notice against Tareq al-Hashemi will significantly restrict his ability to travel and cross international borders," Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said in a statement.

"This case also clearly demonstrates the commitment of Iraqi authorities to work with the world police community via Interpol to apprehend individuals facing serious charges," he said.

A Red Notice is not an internationally binding arrest warrant but many of Interpol's members consider it a valid request, especially if they have an extradition treaty with the requesting country.

Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi in December after the US completed its pullout and he first sought refuge with Iraqi Kurds.

The autonomous population refused to hand him over to Baghdad and he then fled to Turkey, after stops in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

"My life in Baghdad (is) in high risk," the key Sunni Arab leader told journalists Friday in Istanbul, where he had been based more than a month.

He has challenged the legitimacy of the trial in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), claiming the federal court should have handled the case because he is a sitting vice president.

He rejected claims he was a "fugitive" on Friday and said he would soon be back in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

Hashemi's trial began Thursday, but was delayed until May 10.

The decision to charge Hashemi sparked a political crisis that saw the vice president's bloc boycott cabinet and parliament over accusations Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, was monopolising power.

Date created : 2012-05-08

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