BAGHDAD (AP) -- An Iraqi court has found the nation's Sunni vice president guilty of running death squads against security forces and Shiites, and has sentenced him to death in absentia.
The criminal court in Baghdad handed down the sentence against Tariq al-Hashemi on Sunday.
Iraq's Shiite-led government announced the charges against the vice president in December as the last U.S. troops were withdrawing from the country.
Al-Hashemi has been in exile since then. Under Iraqi law, he could receive a retrial if he returns to the country to face the charges.
Al-Hashemi has denied the charges, saying they are part of a political vendetta against him. He is one of Iraq's highest ranking Sunni officials.