Ankara: Turkey on Tuesday said it won't extradite Iraq's fugitive vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court.
"We will host Hashemi in our country as long as he wants to remain in Turkey. We will not hand him over," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara.
Hashemi, who is sheltering in Turkey, was on Sunday sentenced to death for the murders of a lawyer and a brigadier general, after being accused of running a death squad.
The Sunni Arab politician has charged that his trial was politically motivated and ruled out returning to Iraq until his security is guaranteed and he is assured of a fair trial.
Erdogan said Hashemi, an Iraqi official who lost many family members during the conflict in Iraq, could not possibly have been involved in the crimes that he has been found guilty of.
Iraq's Shiite-led government opened charges against Hashemi in December after US troops pulled out of the country.
Hashemi fled to Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then travelled via Qatar and Saudi Arabia to eventually arrive Turkey.
Speaking in Ankara on Monday, Hashemi branded the death sentence "the final phase of the theatrical campaign" carried out by his rival, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and "his politicised judiciary".
Story first published:
September 11, 2012 13:59 IST