Doha defies Baghdad: Demand to hand over Hashemi rejected

Wanted by Baghdad, welcomed by Doha

DOHA - The Gulf state of Qatar has rejected Baghdad's demand to hand over Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Attiyah said Tuesday.
"Diplomatic norms and the post of Hashemi prevent Qatar from doing such a thing," he said when asked about Baghdad's request for Doha to send the Sunni leader back to Iraq, where he is accused of running a death squad.
Hashemi, who arrived in Qatar on Sunday reportedly for an official visit, had been in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region since December.
"Mr. Hashemi came in his capacity as a vice president, and he continues to occupy this post, and has not been sentenced, or stripped of his title," Attiyah told reporters.
Iraq's Shiite-led government has slammed Doha's welcoming of Hashemi as "unacceptable." It also criticised Kurdistan's decision to let him leave the country as a "clear challenge to law and justice."
"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 said in Baghdad on Monday.
Hashemi, who denies the allegations against him and says they are politically motivated, dismissed Iraq's 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 on Monday.
The accusations were levelled against Hashemi the day after US forces withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, and sparked a festering political row.