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Iraq Sunni VP denies terrorism allegations

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
updated 12:22 PM EST, Mon February 20, 2012
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, pictured in December 2011, denied terror charges.
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, pictured in December 2011, denied terror charges.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iraq's Sunni vice president addresses terrorism accusations in speech
  • Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi calls the charges against him "politically motivated"
  • Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council has accused al-Hashimi's security detail of 150 attacks

Baghdad (CNN) -- Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi denied terrorism charges against him Monday, calling them "politically motivated" in a televised speech broadcast from the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north.

Iraq's top judicial committee on Thursday accused al-Hashimi's security detail of carrying out 150 attacks against security forces and civilians between 2005 and 2011.

Al-Hashimi said Monday that the nine-judge council is under the control of the Shiite-dominated central government and the allegations are "politically motivated."

Al-Hashimi criticized the investigation, saying, "How come they finished investigating 150 cases against me and my bodyguards within a few days?

Iraqi VP predicts return to violence

"Where did my bodyguards plan for these 150 attacks? On the surface of the moon?" he asked.

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

"It's a play of a dark comedy that our country is living under right now," al-Hashimi said Monday. "I am wondering ... where are the investigation results of many other major crimes in this country?"

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

Two months later, the Iraqiya party ended their boycott of the Iraqi Parliament and ended a similar effort a few weeks later with the Cabinet.

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

Meanwhile, the Iraqi 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 verify their identities independently.

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 threatens Iraq's stability.

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