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Iraq Court Sentences Fugitive VP's Guards to Death

Four of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards were sentenced to death on Thursday for killing a civil defense officer and his wife, judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar said.

The sentences were handed down by the Central Criminal Court for the killings in west Baghdad in 2011, Bayraqdar told AFP.

Death sentences were given to two Hashemi guards on November 8 and six on November 6. The Thursday sentences bring the total number of sentences handed to Hashemi's guards to 12, but it was not immediately clear if some guards had received multiple sentences.

Hashemi, a top Sunni official and a prominent critic of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has himself been handed four death sentences in absentia. He dismisses the charges against he and his staff as politically motivated.

Hashemi, his secretary and his guards were originally accused of running a death squad in mid-December 2011 as the last U.S. troops left the country.

He fled to Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then embarked on a tour that took him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and finally to Turkey.

Source: Agence France Presse


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