Kurds surrender killer of Iraqi journalist

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By Ali Latif

Azzaman, March 24, 2014

Kurdish authorities have handed over to Iraqi police the Kurdish presidential bodyguard who gunned down a journalist in Baghdad.

The journalist Mohammed al-Shammari was both a practicing reporter and a professor at Baghdad University’s College of Journalism.

The Kurds have a large contingent of their heavily armed militiamen in Baghdad providing protection for their officials in the federal government. The gunman was part of the bodyguard force of Vice-President Jalal Talabani.

Shammari’s funeral took place in Baghdad on Sunday and a large crowd accompanied his coffin to the ministry.

His cold-blooded murder has fuelled anger at the presence of Kurdish militias in Baghdad, who are locally called Peshmerga.

The death of Shammari has worsened relation with the Kurds with many Iraqis now openly urging Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki to expel Kurdish militias from Baghdad.

The leader of the Kurdish force in Baghdad said the Kurdish authorities were keen that the “regrettable event” would not drive a wedge in relations between Kurds and Arabs in the country.

He said the perpetrator was already in Iraqi police custody and will face justice in an Iraqi court.

Maliki was reported to have interfered personally in the arrest of the Kurdish militiaman who opened fire on Shammari and killed him instantly.

There fears of the killing turning into a tribal dispute as the journalist is a member of a powerful Iraqi tribe whose followers might insist on exacting justice their own way.