Iraqis outraged by acquittal of police officer convicted of killing Hisham Al Hashimi

Prominent researcher and government adviser was gunned down outside his home in Baghdad causing nationwide anger

A protester prays by a poster of Hisham Al Hashimi, a leading Iraqi expert on ISIS and other armed groups, who was shot dead in Baghdad in July 2020. AP
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The acquittal of a police officer convicted of killing a prominent researcher has caused outrage across Iraq, activists and civilians told The National on Friday.

Hisham Al Hashimi, 47, was shot outside his Baghdad home by two attackers on a motorcycle in July 2020.

The security expert was one of the foremost authorities on the country's extremist movements, providing crucial insights into the operations of ISIS and Shiite militia groups.

He maintained close ties with the government, as well as diplomats and politicians linked to Iraq.

“There are no words to describe our agony and the pain that Iraqis have endured for years. The killing of Hisham will not go in vain but this decision has not shocked us,” Sohaila Al Assam, a human rights expert, told The National.

“The judicial system has been in question and will need to undergo reform to ensure justice for all.”

The retrial of Ahmed Hamdawi began last week and ended in his acquittal on Wednesday due to a lack of evidence.

Mr Hamdawi confessed to the murder on video in 2020, shortly after it took place.

He told investigators that he plotted and carried out the crime with several other people and said he used his police-issued gun to kill Mr Al Hashimi.

The court ruled that his previous confessions were unfit to secure a conviction, according to media reports.

“Ahmed Hamdawi has denied all charges and judges found that there is no legal basis to charge him. The judge has decided to release him unless he's wanted for another case,” his lawyer said, reading from a copy of the verdict, according to Reuters.

Angry Iraqis took to social media where they posted Mr Hamdawi's confession and called on authorities to reverse their decision.

Mr Hashimi had advised the government on how to defeat ISIS militants and curb the influence of the pro-Iran Shiite militias.

Reports suggest that he had received threats from Iranian-backed militias in the run-up to his death in July 2020.

However, no group claimed responsibility, neither was any organisation accused by the government of his murder.

Iran-linked factions in Iraq deny any role in the killing.

“We will not stop until we get justice for Hisham, no matter the cost. Our voices must be heard, we will even risk our lives,” Iman Al Hassani, a rights activist based in Iraq, told The National.

The security expert was also a supporter of the country's anti-corruption protest movement.

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

Mr Al Hashimi left behind a wife and four children.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 2:45 PM