Iraqi judge issues arrest warrant for Trump

Baghdad: An Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant for outgoing President Donald Trump in connection with the killing of a powerful Iraqi militia leader and an Iranian general, Iraq's judiciary said.

The warrant was issued by a judge in Baghdad's investigative court tasked with probing the Washington-directed drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the court's media office said. They were killed outside the capital’s airport last January.

A supporter of an Iran-backed militia holds a poster of slain Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, left, and deputy commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis during a protest by pro-Iranian militiamen in Iraq last year.Credit:AP

After the strike Trump said he had ordered the killing of Soleimani because he was "plotting to kill" many Americans. According to CNN he later told an audience in Florida that the strike had taken out “two [men] for the price of one”.

Muhandis was the deputy leader of the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella group composed of an array of militias, including Iran-backed groups, formed to fight the Islamic State group.

Soleimani headed the expeditionary Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In June, Iran issued an arrest warrant for Trump and asked Interpol to help detain him. At the time, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Trump and more than 30 others whom Iran accused of involvement in the January 3 strike in Baghdad faced "murder and terrorism charges," the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The Iraqi arrest warrant is for a charge of premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty on conviction. It is unlikely to be carried out but symbolic in the waning days of Trump's presidency.

The decision to issue the warrant "was made after the judge recorded the statements of the claimants from the family of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,” according to a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council. The investigation into the killings is ongoing, the court said.

The killings sparked a diplomatic crisis and strained US-Iraq ties, drawing the ire of Shiite parliamentarians who passed a non-binding resolution to pressure the government to oust foreign troops from the country.

Iran-backed groups have since stepped up attacks against the American presence in Iraq, leading to threats by Washington to shutter its Baghdad diplomatic mission.


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