An Iraqi court Sunday sentenced to death a police officer blamed for leading a group that gunned down well-known analyst and government adviser Hisham al-Hashemi three years ago in Baghdad.
Hashemi, who had advised the government on defeating Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants and curbing the influence of the pro-Iran Shi’ite militias, was shot dead outside his Baghdad family home in July 2020 by men on a motorbike.
The assassination came at a time of rising tension between former prime minister Mustafa Kadhimi's government and powerful Iran-backed militias and political parties who opposed him and accused him of siding with the United States.
A Baghdad court issued a death sentence on Sunday against Ahmed Hamdawi under Iraqi counter-terrorism laws, a judicial authority statement said.
Media were not allowed access, but a lawyer who attended the court session said Hamdawi did not say anything in the court in response to the judge's ruling.
He can appeal the sentence, a spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad said.
In 2021, Iraqi state television aired a video showing Hamdawi saying he led the group that killed Hashemi.
The government officials then described the killing of Hashemi, who had written about politics, Islamic State and the role of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, as a targeted killing but did not accuse any particular group.
Iran-aligned paramilitary officials denied any role in the killing. Some Islamic State supporters cheered his death, but no group had claimed the murder.
Reporting by Reuters