Turkey will not extradite the Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia earlier this week in Baghdad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday. "I'll say it very clearly. We are ready to host Mr. Hashemi as long as he wishes, and we will not extradite him," he said in a press conference in Ankara.
Hashemi, who escaped to Turkey, was convicted of having directed "death squads" and was sentenced to death by hanging.
The Turkish leader denounced a political trial and accused Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of trying to inflame sectarian tensions in Iraq. "There is no truth in the accusations against him. Instead, Hashemi has unfortunately lost family members in Iraq," Erdogan continued.
"There is no question that he was not involved in such acts," he added.
The sentencing to death of Iraqi Vice President was announced Sunday. The Iraqi High Court of Justice convicted him and his son. They both fled to Turkey.