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Iraqi Kurdish Leader Vows Not To Hand Over Fugitive Vice President

Tariq al-Hashemi

Tariq al-Hashemi

The Kurdish leader in Iraq has vowed not to hand over the fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

Addressing delegates of his KDP political party in Arbil, Kurdish regional President Masud Barzani said handing over Hashimi is not possible because Kurdish ethics forbid it.

"It has reached the extent that some were suggesting we facilitate his escape outside Iraq," Barzani said. "Our response was that we do not work as smugglers, and we won't accept that. If Hashemi wishes to leave the country, it must be open. If Hashemi has been accused to the degree the government says, why would they want Kurdistan to help him escape abroad?"

Hashemi, one of Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim politicians, fled Baghdad for the Kurdish zone in December to avoid prosecution at the hands of the Shi'ite-led central government on charges of running death squads.

His presence in Kurdistan has further strained relations between Baghdad and the Kurds, who also have long-running disputes over territory and oil.

Based on Reuters reports