The BBC reports:
Iraq’s fugitive vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death in absentia after a court found him guilty of running death squads.
Politically motivated or not, the case sparked an emergency in Baghdad:
Hashemi was the most senior Sunni Muslim in the predominantly Shia Iraqi government until he was charged last December and went on the run[…]Other Sunni politicians denounced Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – who issued the warrant for Mr Hashemi – as a dictator, accusing him of deliberate provocation that risked plunging the country back into sectarian conflict.
The ruling comes amidst a wave of bombings and assassinations sweeping Iraq as sectarian and communal tensions refuse to fade away. The government seems incapable of halting the violence. Hashemi may or may not be guilty as charged. The evidence suggests he is not alone in his crimes: other senior government officials could be charged with similar misdeeds. But his case brings to attention the serious divisions within Iraq’s ruling elite, who are still at each others’ throats even as the country burns and ordinary Iraqis suffer without simple things like jobs and electricity.