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In brief: Iraq’s fugitive VP on most-wanted list

Wed., May 9, 2012

Baghdad – Interpol on Tuesday put Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president on the equivalent of its most-wanted list at the behest of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

Tariq al-Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey, is being tried in absentia in Baghdad on charges of terrorism as well as guiding and financing death squads that targeted government officials, security forces and Shiite pilgrims. The Iraqi government links him to about 150 bombings, assassinations and other attacks, and says the death squads were largely composed of the vice president’s bodyguards and other employees.

The trial was postponed last week after lawyers for al-Hashemi, who has denied the charges, appealed to have parliament create a special court to hear the case.

Gunfire rings out at Venezuelan prison

Caracas, Venezuela – Gunfire erupted at a Venezuelan prison on Tuesday, prompting National Guard troops to use tear gas as they sought to take back control from armed inmates.

Venezuela’s government is trying to close La Planta prison following two escape attempts and complaints of overcrowding, saying the facility doesn’t meet standards. About half of the prison’s inmates have already been transferred to other lockups, but a group of armed inmates have effectively kept the authorities out of the prison since late last month.

Top prisons official Iris Varela said a small group of inmates has been resisting being transferred. She said heavy gunfire erupted on Tuesday, with inmates firing from inside the prison.


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