Iraq issues arrest warrants for killers of activist Hisham Al Hashimi

Warrants come days after anniversary of security expert's death

Hisham Al Hashimi, an expert on Iraqi armed groups and supporter of the protest movement, was assassinated in Baghdad in July 2020. AFP
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Arrest warrants have been issued for the killers of prominent Iraqi thinker Hisham Al Hashimi, the head of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, Faiq Zaidan, announced on Thursday.

Death sentences were also issued for Iraqi officers in Wasit and Babil for the killings of Iraqi protesters, Mr Zaidan said in an interview with the Iraqi News Agency.

No further details were provided on the other cases.

Al Hashimi was shot dead outside his Baghdad home by gunmen on motorcycles on July 6 last year. He left behind a wife, three sons and a daughter.

The security expert was one of Iraq's most prominent researchers on the country's extremist movements, providing crucial insights into the operations of ISIS and Shiite militia groups. He was also a supporter of the country's anti-corruption protest movement.

His killing sparked widespread outrage and protesters took to the streets to demand justice and accountability for his death.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Hashimi's death, calls for action against his killers were renewed.

Large-scale demonstrations erupted in Iraq in late 2019, with tens of thousands rallying against government corruption and a lack of basic services and employment opportunities.

After the mass protests, many activists and prominent thinkers like Hashimi were killed with impunity. The government has been heavily criticised for not acting on these crimes.

At the end of May, the government arrested militia leader Qassem Musleh on suspicion of being behind several high-profile assassinations of activists and protesters. He was later released by the judiciary for lack of evidence.

What is behind the rise in killings of Iraqi activists?

What is behind the rise in killings of Iraqi activists?

“The judiciary did not succumb to any pressure in the case of Qassem Musleh,” Mr Zaidan said on Thursday.

“The evidence is insufficient to convict him, as he was released after being acquitted of the accusation against him of killing protesters, including Ihab Al Wazni,” he said. “Musleh was not in Iraq at the time of the crime and for this reason he was released.”

Al Wazni's killing was one of a new wave of assassinations of Iraqi activists. The prominent anti-government campaigner, known as the “Hero of Karbala”, was killed in the central city by unknown gunmen in May.

Updated: July 08, 2021, 4:39 PM