Al-Maliki's compliance with the judiciary is proof of his innocence: MP

Al-Maliki's compliance with the judiciary is proof of his innocence: MP

Shafaq News/ Former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's compliance with the subpoena is "proof of his innocence", head of the State of Law's bloc in the Iraqi parliament Atwan al-Atwani said on Tuesday.

Al-Maliki appeared before a judge in Baghdad earlier today over leaked audio recordings in which he seems to insult his powerful rival, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and plots to arm a militia group.

The audio tapes —the authenticity of which is contested— were leaked in early July by US-based blogger and activist Ali al-Fadhil amid rising tension between political rivals over forming a new government.

Al-Atwani said that al-Maliki's appearance before the judge is a "reflection of absolute faith in the justice and impartiality of the Iraqi judiciary, and his respect for the power of law and constitutional institutions."

"It also reflects his bravery in responding to the judiciary's ruling, his self-confidence, and insistence on revoking these accusations and allegations," he added.

"The final say remains for the judiciary, law, justice, and people," he concluded.

In September, politicians linked to al-Sadr filed the legal action against al-Maliki, who was Iraq's prime minister between 2006 and 2014.

Senior Sadrist member Jaafar al-Mousawi said the investigative judge registered al-Maliki's statements and ordered his release on bail.

If charges are brought, the judge would then set a date for the trial, al-Mousawi said.

Hisham al-Rikabi, who runs al-Maliki’s media office, confirmed that he was at a Baghdad court on Tuesday, giving no other details.

There was no immediate comment from the Iraqi Judiciary Council.

The tapes feature a meeting between someone said to be al-Maliki and representatives of a Shiite militia. The date and whereabouts of the meeting is unknown.

In the audio, the person said to be al-Maliki appears to accuse al-Sadr of kidnappings and murder campaigns after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, mainly during sectarian warfare in 2006 and 2007.

In the recording, the voice attributed to al-Maliki also seems to claim al-Sadr is backed by foreign powers who want to drive a wedge among Shiites who ascended to power after 2003 and expresses readiness to fight al-Sadr.

At one point, he urges representatives of the militia group to align with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a branch of Iran's armed forces, and promised to arm them.

In September, the head of the Sadrist bloc, Nassar al-Rubaie, asked authorities to issue an arrest warrant and travel ban against al-Maliki, accusing him of threatening peace and security in the country.

He also accused al-Maliki of seeking to cause sedition and sectarian fighting in the country.

After serving two terms as prime minister up to 2014, al-Maliki sought a third term. But he was forced out from office as ISIS swept through northern and western Iraq, amid a collapse in security.

Bitter feuding between al-Sadr and al-Maliki is one of the main reasons behind the deadlock in forming a new Iraqi government.

Al-Sadr, who emerged a clear winner in October 2021 elections with 73 seats out of 329 seats, but required coalition partners to form a government.

He sought to sideline Al-Maliki's State of Law coalition that won more than 30 seats.

The enmity between the two men dates to 2008, when al-Maliki launched a military operation against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

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