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Iraqi judicial panel accuses vice president and his security detail of 150 attacks

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
updated 6:31 AM EST, Fri February 17, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council returns the first independent review of the case against Tariq al-Hashimi
  • Among the findings, the council says al-Hashimi's bodyguards carried out a December attack that killed 23 people
  • The findings by the Judicial Council are non-binding
  • Al-Hashimi, Iraq's Sunni vice president, has vehemently denied the allegations

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's top judicial committee on Thursday accused Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's security detail of carrying out 150 attacks against security forces and civilians between 2005 and 2011.

The findings by the Supreme Judicial Council were billed as the first independent review of the case at the center of a political crisis along sectarian lines that threaten the stability of the country.

Among the findings by the nine-judge council are allegations that al-Hashimi's bodyguards were behind the December 22 suicide car bomb attack on the offices of Iraq's Integrity Commission that left 23 people dead and 43 wounded, council spokesman Abdul Sattar Bakrakdar said during a news conference in Baghdad.

Bakrakdar did not provide details of the evidence that allegedly links al-Hashimi and his security detail to the attacks. The findings of the Judicial Council are non-binding, and it is unclear what the findings mean in the case.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government has accused al-Hashimi of organizing his security detail into a death squad that targeted government and military officials.

Iraq's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political leaders have squared off over an arrest warrant issued late last year for the arrest of al-Hashimi.

The arrest warrant was issued shortly after al-Hashimi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya party announced it would boycott Parliament, saying al-Maliki was cutting it out of the decision-making process.

Al-Hashimi has vehemently denied the charges, saying the accusations are politically motivated amid the rivalry between his political bloc and al-Maliki's Shiite majority bloc. He did not immediately respond to a CNN request Thursday for comment.

Al-Maliki has demanded that Kurdish lawmakers hand over the Sunni vice president, who refuses to return to Baghdad from northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has banned al-Hashimi from leaving the country.

The charges against al-Hashimi appear to be based on the purported confessions of three men, identified as the vice president's security guards. Iraqi state-run TV aired video of the men's confessions in December. CNN has not been able to independently verify their identities.

Among the confessions was one by a man who detailed roadside bombings and shootings that targeted government and security officials in 2009.

The person speaking said orders at times came directly from al-Hashimi and at times through his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, who is also a senior member of his staff.

In an interview with CNN in January, al-Hashimi blamed al-Maliki of pushing the country toward a deep sectarian divide.

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