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Iraq VP: Death squad charges politically motivated
Iraqi VP slams charges that he ran death squads for years as politically motivated
By The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) ' Iraq's embattled Sunni vice president says government charges that he ran death squads are politically motivated.

Tariq al-Hashemi vigorously defended himself during a half-hour speech Monday against charges that he said were based on coerced statements against him.

The Shiite-led government issued a warrant for al-Hashemi's arrest in December on charges that he paid his bodyguards to kill security officials and workers in Iraq's health and foreign ministries.

A judicial panel last week concluded that al-Hashemi was behind at least 150 attacks since 2005.

Al-Hashemi was speaking from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, where he has sought haven from arrest in the autonomous Kurdish region.

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