Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, on suspicion of guiding and financing terrorist attacks, the agency said Tuesday.
Hashemi and his bodyguards are concurrently being tried in Baghdad in absentia, charged with running a death squad that targeted senior officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims.
He went on the run in December after Iraqi authorities issued their own arrest warrant.
The Interpol Red Notice against Tariq Al-Hashemi will significantly restrict his ability to travel and cross international borders. It is a powerful tool that will help authorities around the world locate and arrest him, said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
This case also clearly demonstrates the commitment of Iraqi authorities to work with the world police community via Interpol to apprehend individuals facing serious charges.
The red notice, an arrest warrant that seeks an eventual extradition, comes after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, issued a domestic arrest warrant before dissolving the Sunni Hashemi's guard unit.
In response, Hashemi, who is currently in Istanbul, said he was not a criminal, and not on the run.
The red notice, he added, was issued on baseless, politically motivated allegations levied upon me. International justice is being manipulated by sectarian political forces that are hijacking my country from the path of democracy.
Hashemi has been in Turkey since mid-April under the protection of the security services there, who, according to Turkish NTV, have him under 24-hour guard, the AP said.
Mr. al-Hashemi is in our country due to his health problems and to hold talks regarding latest developments, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. I believe, he will return his country following his treatment.
Since fleeing Baghdad late last year, Hashemi has been holed up in the Kurdish-controlled autonomous region of northern Iraq. Hashemi was the most prominent Sunni Arab politician in a government dominated by Shias.