ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi judicial authorities on Sunday issued an arrest warrant against a Kurdish politician who was an influential figure in the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum last year.
According to a document obtained by Kurdistan 24, the Kirkuk Investigation Court has issued an arrest warrant and inquiry against Rebwar Talabani, acting head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), under the provision of Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure number 331. The article allows for fines or imprisonment for "any public official or agent who willfully commits an act in breach of the duties of his office or refrains from executing the affairs of that office."
Talabani has served as acting head of the KPC since 2014. He was one of the Council’s leading members who actively pushed for all public administrative buildings in Kirkuk to raise the Kurdistan national flag alongside the Iraqi one, a decision approved by a majority vote in March 2017.
He was also a staunch supporter of including Kirkuk in the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum held on Sep. 25.
During a press conference in Erbil, Talabani denied the accusations and said the charges against him were politically motivated.
The Kurdish official revealed that the Turkmen Movement was responsible for the arrest warrant against him. He also said the judge who issued the order is seeking “self-popularity,” vowing to take legal action against him.
A statement by the office of Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), expressed support for Talabani, stating that all loyal Kurds are now backing him.
“President Barzani also supports [Talabani] with all his power,” it added, noting the action taken against Talabani was due “to his national and patriotic positions.”
The Oct. 16 attack and takeover of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias led to the displacement of over half of the KPC’s members along with 170,000 civilians to cities in the Kurdistan Region, including Talabani and the ousted Governor, Najmaldin Karim.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany