Iraqi Kurdistan: Suspects in Protester shootings evade arrest

September 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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 24/09/2011 

 HEVIDAR AHMED – RUDAW – SULAIMANI, Iraqi Kurdistan — A court has issued arrest warrants for nine individuals, including two high-ranking officials, wanted for their alleged involvement in the shootings of protesters and for burning down a satellite news channel, Nalia. A source at the Sulaimani public prosecutor’s office, however, said police are refusing to arrest the officials. The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Two of the wanted people are high-ranking officials and the police can’t arrest them, while the other seven have disappeared and the police can’t find them.”

During the anti-corruption protests between February and April, around a dozen people were killed and several hundred were injured in near-daily clashes between protesters and the police. After facing pressure from the opposition, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani issued a decree on August 27 that demanded those responsible for the violence be arrested and tried. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Barham Salih, also issued an order in support of Barzani’s decree on September 14.

“Within 24 hours after the issuance of the court order, the wanted individuals must be taken to court to process their cases,” read the prime minister’s order.

In one of the most violent days that sparked mass protests, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) guards allegedly fired on demonstrators throwing stones at the party’s office in Sulaimani on February 17, killing a teen-age boy.

The public prosecutor source said Hiwa Ahmed Mustafa, the head of the office in Sulaimani, is one of the individuals wanted in the case. Mustafa denied the claim.“My name hasn’t been mentioned in the Iraqi courts or in Kurdistan’s courts as a wanted or guilty person,” Mustafa told Rudaw in an interview.“I’m not guilty in the incident on February 17th. The KDP leadership considers itself the one in charge of the fourth branch (in Sulaimani). The KDP will respond to the court and it has already hired lawyers for that matter.” The Sulaimani public prosecutor’s source who spoke to Rudaw on condition of anonymity said, “In the incident of February 17th, the person in charge of the fourth branch must be personally present in the court, because he gave the order to shoot on protestors.”

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