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Fugitive Iraq VP given fifth death sentence: TV

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An Iraqi court has handed down a fifth death sentence on the country’s fugitive Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on a weapons charge, Iraqiya state television reported on Thursday.

The sentence was issued by the Central Criminal Court for possession, transportation and use of silenced weapons, Iraqiya said.

Hashemi, a prominent critic of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, dismisses the charges against him and his staff, some of whom have also been sentenced to death, as politically motivated.

Hashemi, his secretary and his guards were originally accused of running a death squad in mid-December 2011 as the last U.S. troops left the country.

Hashemi fled to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, which declined to hand him over to the federal government, and then embarked on a tour that took him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and finally to Turkey.