Iraqi parliament has not been able to ratify an agreement with Saudi Arabia to exchange prisoners, threatening the deal reached between the two countries in March, Al Arabiya television reported on Tuesday.
The Saudi-Iraqi agreement was not welcomed in the Iraqi parliament, especially among MPs in the Shiite-majority National Iraqi Alliance, led by the former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, judicial expert Ali al-Tamimi told Al Arabiya in an interview.
“The parliament is having reservations about the agreement or rejecting it, meaning its cancelation altogether,” Tamimi said.
He added: “If the parliament wants to amend the agreement, the Saudi side has to be re-convinced.”
In March, Iraq agreed to repatriate Saudi prisoners who fought alongside Islamist insurgents against U.S.-led forces under a deal that signaled further improvement of relations between the two major Arab countries.
The deal came less than a month after Saudi Arabia, which has had uneasy relations with Iraq’s Shiite Muslim-led government, named an ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
But the Iraqi parliament not fully ratifying the agreement shows some remain suspicious whether Saudi Arabia will carry out the same sentences for those convicted on terrorism charges in Iraq.
There are 100 Iraqi prisoners in Saudi Arabia, and 70 Saudi prisoners in Iraq -- among them, five Saudis who were handed death sentences.
“There are various sentences for both Iraqis and Saudis, but some political blocs in Iraq wanted some guarantees that the sentences they have been issued will be applied for both countries,” said Nahida al-Dayana, a member of parliament from the Iraqiya bloc.
The agreement between the two nations stipulates that death sentences, charges and fines shouldn’t be changed.