Venue Appeal Delays Iraq VP Death Squad Caseإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The trial in absentia of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who complains of being politically targeted, was postponed a week on Thursday after his lawyers called for it to be held in a special court.
Hashemi, one of Iraq's top Sunni Arab officials, stands accused along with several of his bodyguards of running a death squad, but left Iraq weeks ago and is not expected to attend the trial.
Hours before the trial was due to open on Thursday, shootings and bombings erupted in the Harithiyah neighborhood where the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) is situated, although not in the immediate vicinity of the court compound.
An Iraqi soldier was killed in a shooting at 8:00 am (0500 GMT), while three roadside bombs wounded two police bomb disposal experts at around the same time, an interior ministry official said.
"The trial has been postponed until May 10," Higher Judicial Council spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar said.
Lawyers for Hashemi called for the case to be held in a special court rather than the CCCI, and a judge is to consider their request before the case resumes in a week.
"For people such as presidents and prime ministers, throughout the history of Iraq, there have always been special courts to try them," said Muayad al-Izzi, one of Hashemi's eight defense lawyers.
Neither Hashemi nor any of his accused bodyguards were present at the court, an Agence France Presse journalist said.
Thursday's trial was to tackle the assassinations of two security officials and a lawyer, Bayraqdar said.
The charges against Hashemi were first labeled in December after U.S. troops completed their pullout, sparking a political crisis that saw the vice president's bloc boycott cabinet and parliament over accusations Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was monopolizing power.
Hashemi and some of his guards were on Monday also charged with killing six judges, as Bayraqdar put the overall number of accusations against the group at about 150.
Bayraqdar, who said further charges could still be filed, did not provide a breakdown of the accusations, or say how many Hashemi himself faces.
He said that around 13 of Hashemi's guards had been released for lack of evidence, leaving some 73 others.
After the charges were filed, the vice president, who insists they are politically-motivated, fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region in north Iraq, whose authorities have declined to hand him over to the central government.
They then allowed him to leave on a tour of the region that has taken Hashemi to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and now Turkey.