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Judicial panel: Arrest warrant for Iraq’s vice president is justified

BAGHDAD – In a sign that Iraq’s political crisis isn’t letting up, the country’s Higher Judicial Council on Sunday endorsed an arrest warrant that earlier accused the country’s vice president of enlisting his body guards to run a hit squad, according to the country’s state-run television station, Iraqia.

Last week, the warrant was issued against Tariq al-Hashimi, a leading Sunni politician, according to the Ministry of Interior, which is effectively led by the country’s top politician, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

Hashimi denies running a hit squad, and says the whole matter was trumped up by Maliki. He has fled to the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, while Maliki has demanded the Kurds hand him over. The matter is one of several fueling a political crisis in Iraq.

On Sunday, the country’s Higher Judicial Council, which is akin to the U.S. Supreme Court, said a five-judge panel had reviewed the investigation and determined Hashimi’s warrant was justified, according to the Iraqia station. The day before, Maliki said the courts are operating independent of his executive branch.

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