The announcement of Hashemi's sentence coincided with the worst day of violence in Iraq since July, as scores of people were killed and hundreds injured in a series of bombings across the country, the worst taking place in the capital city of Baghdad. AP notes that "It's unlikely that the attacks in 13 cities were all timed to coincide with the afternoon verdict," but "taken together, the violence and verdict could energize Sunni insurgents bent on returning Iraq to the brink of civil war by targeting Shiites and undermining the government."
Hashemi was a long-standing critic of the Maliki administration even before murder charges were laid against him in December, within a week of the US military's departure from Iraq. In an extensive interview with the Monitor's Dan Murphy published yesterday, Hashemi warned that Maliki's government is a worse human rights offender than Saddam Hussein's.
"I think our situation in terms of human rights, is getting much worse than it used to be during Saddam Hussein’s regime," says Hashemi. "The Maliki government took innocent people and after 24 to 48 hours bodies were delivered to their families. 'These were not the man we were looking for and we’re sorry about your son,' is all they said."