An Iraqi court has sentenced to death a police officer, Ahmed Hamdawi Oueid al-Kenani, who was accused of leading a group that gunned down well-known analyst and government adviser Hisham al-Hashimi three years ago in Baghdad’s Ziyouna district.
A Baghdad court issued a death sentence on Sunday against al-Kenani under Iraqi counterterrorism laws, a judicial authority statement said.
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Al-Hashimi, a prominent academic and government adviser who was an expert on Sunni armed groups such as ISIL (ISIS) operating in Iraq and who had close contacts with top Iraqi decision-makers, was shot dead outside his home in July 2020 by four men on two motorcycles.
Al-Hashimi had also been outspoken against powerful Shia armed actors aligned with Iran, which had angered Tehran-backed Shia factions in Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary network.
The Hashd holds the second-biggest bloc in Iraq’s parliament and controls vast financial assets.
Al-Hashimi’s death and al-Kenani’s arrest
Reported security footage from a camera near al-Hashimi’s home on July 6, 2020 showed a masked gunman walk up to his white SUV and fire several gunshots through the driver’s window.
As the hitman escaped, al-Hashimi’s three young boys were seen helping neighbours pull his bullet-riddled body from the car.
Just over a year later, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced that suspects in his adviser’s murder had been arrested.
Iraqi state television then aired a video showing al-Kenani wearing a brown jumpsuit, saying he led the group that killed al-Hashimi.
The surveillance footage of the attack was shown on state TV, which appeared to corroborate this.
After the arrest, al-Kadhimi said on Twitter, “We promised to capture Husham Alhashimi’s killers. We fulfilled that promise.”
Al Rassafa Criminal Court Sentences Death to the officer in the Ministry of Interior "Ahmed Hamdawi Ouaid" Killer of Security Expert Hisham Al-Hashimi according to article 4 of antiterrorism law (No. 13 for 2005) after defferring the decision for 10 occasions. pic.twitter.com/7cYAAH3fQ3
— Dr. Ali Al Bayati | د. علي البياتي (@aliakramalbayat) May 7, 2023
Media were not allowed access to the court on Sunday, but a lawyer who attended the session said al-Kenani did not say anything in response to the judge’s ruling.
He can appeal the sentence, a spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad said.
In 2020, government officials described al-Hashimi’s death as a targeted killing, but did not accuse any group in particular.
Iran-aligned paramilitary officials denied any role in the killing, and no organisation has claimed to have carried out the murder.