Iraq court issues death sentence to al-Hashimi’s killer

A police officer involved in the murder of the prominent academic and security expert has been sentenced to death.

A poster depicting Hisham al-Hashimi in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq in 2020 [Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

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.

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.”

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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies