Iraq fugitive VP sentenced to hang for death squads
-car bombs kill over a hundred
BAGHDAD, (Reuters) - Car bombs tore through mainly Shi’ite Baghdad districts yesterday after Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death, as more than 100 people were killed across the country in one of the bloodiest days this year.
Hashemi’s sentencing in absentia and the violence threatened to further stoke sectarian tensions in Iraq where a Shi’ite-led government is battling political deadlock and a Sunni Islamist insurgency nine months after U.S. troops left.
A senior Sunni politician, Hashemi fled Iraq after the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in December, a move that threatened to collapse a fragile power-sharing deal among Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
After yesterday’s court ruling, bombs tore through six mainly Shi’ite neighbourhoods around Baghdad, one going off outside a restaurant and another in a busy commercial district, following earlier bombs that had hit other cities nationwide.
“I heard women screaming, I saw people running in all directions, chairs scattered in the street. My windows were blown out, my mother and two kids were injured too,” said Alla Majid, still shaking after a blast in Baghdad’s Sadr City.
Hashemi, who is unlikely to return to Iraq from Turkey, had accused Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of orchestrating a crackdown on Sunni opponents and had refused to appear in a court he dismissed as biased.
He and his son-in-law were both found guilty in absentia of murdering a female lawyer and security official, Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, a judiciary spokesman said.