The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) [OAA backgrounder] on Thursday sentenced former Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashemi [JURIST news archive] to death for the second time after he was convicted for his involvement in a plot to assassinate an interior ministry official. In particular, the Sunni ex-leader and his brother-in-law were sentenced to hang [Reuters report] for a charge related to inciting bodyguards to attach an adhesive IED to a ministry official's car. Al-Hashemi was first sentenced to death [JURIST report] in September after being convicted on three counts of murder. That verdict, like Thursday's, was issued in absentia [Iraqi News report] because al-Hashemi has been in hiding since his arrest warrant was issued [Reuters report] in December. Al-Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey to avoid trial in Iraq, denied accusations of being involved in death squads that targeted Shia officials and pilgrims. Though he has yet to issue a statement regarding the CCCI's second death sentence, he has long argued that the charges against him are politically motivated by the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government.
Al-Hashemi is the highest ranking Sunni official with significant support from people in the region, as illustrated by the thousands who protested the charges against him [Al Arabiya report]. The ex-VP's first death sentence came after attacks carried out across Iraq killed at least 64 people. 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 against him by Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic].