BAGHDAD - Iraq said on Monday that Qatar hosting fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was “unacceptable” and called on Doha to hand him over, a demand he said was unconstitutional after talks with Qatar’s emir. “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,” Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told a news conference in Baghdad. Shahristani said the autonomous region of Kurdistan, 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 was quick to reject Baghdad’s extradition demand.
“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.
“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.
He added that he will return to Kurdistan after a “tour around some capitals” which he did not name.
The Sunni leader arrived on Sunday in Doha, and met Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to discuss “relations between the two brotherly countries and developments in the region,” according to Qatar’s state news agency QNA.
Baghdad has demanded that Kurdistan hand Hashemi over to face justice, but the region has so far declined to oblige.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a news conference on Sunday that Hashemi “is wanted in a member country of the Arab League, and he should not be received, especially under the title of vice president,” when asked about the possibility of Hashemi visiting other Arab states.
Hashemi denies the allegations against him, and says they are politically motivated.
The accusations were levelled against him the day after US forces withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, and sparked a festering political row.