Iraq’s fugitive vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, a top critic of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was handed a second death sentence in absentia on Thursday, a spokesman said.
Defense lawyers for Hashemi, who has been abroad since charges of running a death squad were filed against him in December, protested they had not been informed of the sentencing hearing over a plot to murder a security official.
Hashemi, one of Iraq’s most senior Sunni officials, has dismissed the charges brought against him by Maliki’s Shiite-led government as politically-motivated.
“The central criminal court of Iraq issued a death sentence against Tareq al-Hashemi and Ahmed Qahtan, because he (Hashemi) urged his guards to put a bomb on a car belonging to an interior ministry officer,” said judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar.
He did not give further details.
Qahtan, who is last known to have been in Turkey, is Hashemi’s secretary and son-in-law.
Lawyers for Hashemi complained that they were not informed of the session and had been told that the next hearing was to take place on Sunday.
“They should have taken the decision in the presence of the defence lawyers,” said Muayad al-Izzi, head of Hashemi’s defence team. “They did not invite us, they did not call us. We were informed about it later.”
Hashemi was handed a first death sentence for three murders in a hearing on September 9, the same day a wave of deadly attacks killed dozens of people nationwide.
He was first accused of running a death squad in mid-December 2011 as the last U.S. troops left the country.
Hashemi fled to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then embarked on a tour that took him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and finally to Turkey.