Iraq court rejects president's testimony in terror case against VP

[JURIST] An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday rejected a request by the defense counsel in the terror trial against the country's vice president Tariq al-Hashemi [JURIST news archive] to call President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to testify. The defense team, led by Muayad Obeid al-Ezzi, had requested the country's president to testify in the case as a character witness and planned to ask about information related to their client's role in terror attacks. Al-Ezzi said that the appeals court upheld a previous decision [Al Jazeera report] by a criminal court in the country's capital that forbade Talabani from testifying in the case. The three-judge panel reasoned that the president's testimony would add nothing to the case. During Tuesday's hearing, the court heard testimony from five police officers who claimed that they found pistol silencers in the homes of al-Hashemi and Ahmed Qahtan, his son-in-law and office manager. Al-Hashemi who is currently in Turkey to avoid trial in Iraq denied accusations of him being involved in death squads that targeted Shia officials and pilgrims and argued that the current trial is politically motivated. With the rejection of the request, the trial was postponed again.

The decision by the appeals court came in the wake of coordinated attacks in 13 cities that killed at least 103 people while injuring around 200. The attacks are alleged to be initiated by the al-Qaeda [JURIST news archive] to send out a message that it is still strong. The attacks are considered [AP report] the deadliest in two years. In December al-Hashemi stated that he is not going to return to Baghdad [JURIST report] to stand trial on charges of inciting violence in the country. The statement came a week after an arrest warrant was issued [Reuters report] against him by Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic].

 

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