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Iraq: Kurdish Legal Expert Comments On Defamation Case

Kamal Sayyid Qadir speaking to journalists on 24 January (AFP) RFI correspondent Shamal Ramadan reported on 27 January from Irbil that Kurdish intellectual and Austrian citizen Kamal Sayyid Qadir would be retried because of procedural issues in his first trial. Qadir was convicted last month of defaming the Kurdish cause and the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in articles that he wrote while in Austria. According to Qadir, his initial trial lasted only 15 minutes. In his report, Ramadan interviewed Muhammad Umar, member of the Irbil Court of Cassation.

RFI: Please describe the state of Kamal Qadir's case.

Muhammad Umar: Doctor Kamal Qadir has been sentenced by the Criminal Court in Irbil to two 15-year terms on two separate indictments. But as the case was passed to the Court of Cassation, the Penal Board at the Court of Cassation reviewed the case and stated that the act of the defendant does not fall under Article 156 of the Penal Code as amended by Article 1 of Law No. 21 of 2003. The amended Article 156 of the Penal Code covers acts of external attack against the independence of the country, which has not been the case of the defendant. The Court of Cassation has stated that the act of the defendant falls under Article 433 of the Penal Code. Based on this, the [Court of Cassation] has abolished the sentences issued by the Criminal Court in Irbil and returned the case to the Court of Investigations, which should pass the case on to another court, with the defendant [facing charges] under Article 433.

RFI: You have mentioned that the man has been sentenced to two 15-year terms. Why were there two indictments? What outcome do you expect from his retrial at the Court of Cassation?

Umar: He was sentenced twice because there were two separate allegations, filed by two different parties. There were two complaints against him and the sentences were issued against him independently of one another. Concerning my expectations of his upcoming trial, the investigations judge will pass the case to a court of misdemeanors, not a criminal court. [Qadir] will be tried by the Court of Misdemeanors in Irbil on charges based on Article 433 of the Penal Code, and the sentence can be either imprisonment or fine.

RFI: What are the minimum and maximum sentences possible in this case?

Umar: As for imprisonment, in misdemeanor cases it varies from three months to five years. This depends on the decision of the court, which we cannot interfere in. It is fully within the rights and competence of the court.

RFI: It has been reported that the prime minister of the [Kurdistan regional] government has demanded that many of the plaintiffs withdraw their suits. Is this true?

Umar: I have no information on that. But I guess that the case is on its way to its final resolution, and it will come to an end within a few days.

RFI: Has the defendant been given special treatment -- I mean the overturning of the sentences and the expected retrial?

Umar: I can confirm that this case has not enjoyed any exceptional attention, being like any other of the many ordinary cases. The Kurdistan regional government respects the independence of the judiciary, and [the case] has remained within the authority of the courts in charge. No interference has violated this freedom, and no there has been no interference in favor of issuing particular sentences. The competence of the courts has not been violated by any outside interference.

Statement From Lawyer Jamal Qasim

Below is a statement by lawyer Jamal Qasim, a member of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly for the Kurdistan Democratic Party, that was recorded by RFI on 27 January.

Jamal Qasim: As far as I can see as a lawyer, no one will object to the Court of Cassation decision -- neither those who called for the punishment of Dr. Kamal [Qadir], nor those who have been mentioned in the [allegedly defamatory] texts and publications by him. There is no need to issue an amnesty because there is absolutely no intention to call Dr. Kamal [Qadir] to responsibility. In my opinion, he will be released within a week or, at most, a few days [more than that]. I think there is no justification for keeping him imprisoned, as he has been in jail now for some three months.

(translated by Petr Kubalek)

Iraq's Kurdish Region

Iraq's Kurdish Region

KURDISH AWAKENING: The ethnic Kurdish region in the northern part of Iraq has struggled in recent years to reestablish its cultural and political identity after decades of oppression under the regime of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In December, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel traveled to this area and filed several reports:

Relative Peace Underscores Issue Of Kurdish Region's Future

Kurdish Culture Begins To Flourish In Kurdistan Region

Kurds Ponder How To Strengthen Autonomy After Elections

Irbil’s Kurds Live On A Hill Of Undiscovered Treasures

THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.

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