Hashemi Trial Begins amid Signs the Iraqi Constitution Is Dying

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

It was perhaps inevitable. An Iraqi politician would eventually declare the Interpol red flag notice for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi “unconstitutional”.

There are many good reasons for being critical about the reasons that led to the original prosecution of Hashemi. In particular, the timing of the original Iraqi arrest warrant – just hours after the departure of the last US forces from Iraq in December 2011 – smacked of political opportunism. Subsequent allegations about mistreatment of the imprisoned guards of the Iraqi vice president have been met with unsatisfactory replies from the Iraqi judiciary that have prompted suspicion of whitewash on more than one occasion.

However, the Interpol red flag notice is in itself not “unconstitutional”. Iraq is an Interpol member and the government has the option of turning to Interpol to request international assistance for bringing suspects to court. The built-in checks and balances in the system in this case have nothing to do with the Iraqi constitution as such but with the ability of other Interpol member countries – including Turkey, where Hashemi is currently staying – to ignore the warrant or deny extradition if they judge its basis to be unsound or the prospects of a fair trial unlikely. This is precisely what Turkey is doing.

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