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Rejecting death sentence, Iraqi VP Hashemi calls for Iraqis to resist (+video)

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(Read caption) Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi discusses the charges against him during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Monday.
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Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi today rejected the death sentence meted against him yesterday by an Iraqi court, calling the verdict a political vendetta by the prime minister's office.

Mr. Hashemi, who, along with his son-in-law Ahmed Qahtan, was sentenced to hang for allegedly organizing the murders of a lawyer and a Shiite security official, said the ruling was the result of a political campaign by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to eliminate his rivals and consolidate dictatorial power, reports the Associated Press.

“I totally reject and will never recognize” the verdict, Hashemi told reporters in the Turkish capital of Ankara, where he is currently living. “I consider the verdict a medal on my chest.”

“The death sentence is a price I have to pay due to love to my country and my loyalty to my people,” he added. “I reiterate that I’m innocent, and am ready to stand before a fair judicial system and not a corrupt one that is under al-Maliki’s influence.”

Reuters reports that Hashemi also called upon his countrymen to resist Mr. Maliki.  "My people, don't give Maliki and those who stand behind him the chance. They want to make this a sectarian strife. Oppose his conspiracies and provocation calmly... People should not stay silent on the unprecedented oppression in Iraq."

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