One of Iraq’s most powerful political parties filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, further deepening the country’s deadly political impasse.
Politicians aligned with powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and pushed the legal action against his rival Mr Al Maliki. It is a response to leaked audio tapes — the authenticity of which is contested — that allegedly show the former premier insulting a number of officials, including Mr Al Sadr.
The suit by Nassar Al Rubaie, the head of the Sadrist bloc, requested authorities to issue an arrest warrant against Mr Al Maliki and a travel ban.
In a letter addressed to the country's top court, which circulated on social media, Mr Al Rubaie accused him of threatening peace and security in the country.
Mr Al Maliki is also accused of seeking to cause sedition and sectarian fighting in the country.
"He also said that he will be the first one to target Moqtada Al Sadr and threaten to kill him," Mr Al Rubaie said in the letter.
The recording sparked controversy, especially regarding its authenticity.
It was leaked by US-based blogger and activist Ali Al Fadhil who began to release parts of the alleged audio recording between Mr Al Maliki and two militiamen.
Mr Al Maliki has said the audio is fake.
The former prime minister allegedly said in the audio that Mr Al Sadr is backed by foreign powers, whom he accuses of carrying out kidnappings and murder campaigns across Iraq during years of sectarian violence after the 2003 US-led invasion.
Mr Al Maliki described the Popular Mobilisation Forces, which is an umbrella group of mostly Iran-backed armed militia, as "the nationwide cowards".
He is linked to the group and maintains close relations with its top officials.
Relations between Mr Al Sadr and Mr Al Maliki have been sour over the years.
In the alleged audio Mr Al Maliki said the Sunnis, in which he is referring to the Baathists, were working as part of a British conspiracy to overthrow the country's Shiites.
It was under Mr Al Maliki's watch that ISIS took over large areas of Iraq in 2014.
He led the country until then before being removed from his position.