News and Comment by The Kurdistan Tribune:
For a second time the case of Asos Hardi, director of the Awene Press and Publishing Company, has been referred to the criminal court in Sulaymani. This follows the decision by the court on 5 December 2011 to release Aumar Fatah Hussain, a member of the PUK politburo, and his nephew Bahez Abdulbaki, who is part of his bodyguard, on the grounds of having insufficient evidence to prosecute them for the brutal assault on Asos Hardi last August.
Asos Hardi’s lawyer, Karzan Fazel, appealed against that decision and the court has now decided to refer the case for a second time to the criminal court. Both alleged attackers have to be present in front of the court in accordance with article 31/406 of prosecution law.
The new evidence that Asos Hardi will bring to the court concerns telephone communications between the four alleged attackers, apparently providing further evidence of the PUK leadership’s involvement. This new evidence involves transcripts of 143 calls lasting almost 35 hours between the four alleged attackers (Maroof Hassan, Rizgar Ahmed, Bahez Abdulbaki and Rizgar Amin) before and after the assault.
Furthermore, a second new item of evidence is a telephone call by Aumar Fatah’s wife, Kafe Sleman, to the victim one day before the attack, when she complained to him about an article in the Awene newspaper.
Recently people have come to regard the actions of some of the PUK leadership as like those of Mafia thugs who can attack anyone they want.
If this case is successfully prosecuted it will be the first time the courts have effectively dealt with one of the many attacks on independent journalists in Kurdistan. Many people will be watching the case closely to see whether:
- this case will show the people that the judicial system is independent
- this case will send a message to corrupt leaders that this is just the beginning of a process of dealing with other cases like this.