September 10, 2012 - 19:53 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Iraq's fugitive vice president has declared his "absolute innocence" and rejected the terror trial that sentenced him to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals, Belfast Telegraph said.
Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, who fled Iraq after the government brought the charges against him, called the trial illegitimate and accused prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite and long-time foe, of orchestrating it as part of a political vendetta.
"The verdict is unjust, politicised, illegitimate and I will not recognise it," Mr al-Hashemi said in the Turkish capital of Ankara. "But I put it as a medal of honour on my chest because it was al-Maliki, not anyone else, behind it. I'm proud that it is al-Maliki, and not anyone else, to target me."
"The death sentence is a price I have to pay due to my love for my country and my loyalty to my people," he added. "I reiterate that I'm innocent, and am ready to stand before a fair judicial system and not a corrupt one that is under al-Maliki's influence."
Mr Al-Hashemi fled to Turkey after Iraq's Shiite-led government issued the terror charges against him in December, the day after US troops withdrew from the country. He would receive a retrial if he agrees to return to Baghdad, but he says he will never get a fair hearing in a Baghdad court.
The politically charged case sparked a government crisis and fuelled Sunni Muslim and Kurdish resentment against Mr al-Maliki, whom critics say is monopolising power.