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Kurdish officer to be tried for journalist's murder

Posted on Mar 27 2014 | IANS

Baghdad, March 27 : A Kurdish officer who killed a journalist at a presidential site in Baghdad will appear in court on a charge that could lead to his execution, the Iraqi federal judicial authority said Thursday.

The Central Criminal Court set April 7 as the date for the public trial of the defendant accused of killing journalist Mohammed Bdiewi al-Shimmary, spokesman for the judicial authority, Abdul-Sattar al-Biraqdar, said in a statement posted on the authority's website.

Al-Biraqdar Wednesday told local media that after security had interrogated the accused officer, he was referred to the criminal court to be charged in accordance with Article 406 of the Iraqi Penal Code, which allows the death penalty to be used in murder cases, Xinhua reported.

Shimmary, head of the Free Iraq Radio station and a media teacher, was shot dead Saturday in Baghdad's central district of Karrada after he had a dispute with the officer and soldiers of the Kurdish brigade guarding a presidential site belonging to Iraq 's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani.

Shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of the suspected shooter, and later Maliki himself arrived at the scene.

Ahmed Ibrahim, a Kurdish officer from the presidential brigade, said that the Kurdish presidency condemned the incident and would immediately hand over the suspect. He added that he believed the incident was being politicised with the aim of evicting the Kurdish presidential brigade from Baghdad.

"The prime minister did not give us time to hand over the perpetrator. He sent his heavily armed forces, and then he came himself as if they are exploiting the situation for some greater purpose," Ibrahim added.

In Kurdistan, the regional government has accused the central government in Baghdad of stirring up trouble with the Kurds by politically exploiting the killing of the Arab journalist by a Kurdish officer in Baghdad.

"It's regrettable that the Iraqi prime minister used strange and inconvenient words like 'blood for blood' after the incident, which is against the law, state governance and the culture of coexistence and democracy," said the office of Massoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan Regional Government.

Kurdistan presidency's office regretted the killing of the journalist and expressed condolences to his family and hoped that the incident would be settled within the judicial system away from the interference of politicians.

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