Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on Monday rejected Baghdad’s demand for Qatar to hand him over, saying he enjoys constitutional immunity and has not been convicted.
“There has not been a judicial decision against me from any court, and the demand does not respect Article 93 of the constitution, which provides me with immunity,” he told AFP in the Qatari capital.
Earlier, Baghdad had demanded Doha hand over Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad, and who arrived in the Gulf state on Sunday from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan, where he fled in December.
“Why do they demand that Qatar extradite me?... Officials in Kurdistan have responded to a similar request by telling them that I have immunity according to Article 93,” Hashemi said.
Hashemi told AFP news agency, he will return to Kurdistan after a “tour around some capitals” which he did not name.
Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani condemned Qatar’s welcoming of Hashemi as “unacceptable” and demanded his extradition.
“The state of Qatar receiving a wanted person is an unacceptable act and Qatar should back off from this stance, and return him to Iraq,” he told a news conference in Baghdad.
Shahristani added that the autonomous Kurdistan region, where Hashemi had been holed up since charges were issued against him in December, had committed a “clear challenge to law and justice” by allowing him to leave the country.
Hashemi arrived on Sunday in Doha, where he was welcomed by Qatari Minister of State Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser bin Jassem al-Thani, according to Qatari state news agency QNA.
He “left the Kurdistan region of Iraq this morning, Sunday, going to Doha,” accepting an invitation he had previously received, a statement from Hashemi’s office emailed to AFP said.
Hashemi is wanted on charges of running a death squad, allegations he says are politically-motivated.
The accusations were levelled against him the day after U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, and sparked a festering political row.