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Iraq court orders arrest of Kurd independence vote organizers

Iraqi Kurds celebrate the results of the independence referendum in the northern city of Arbil, on September 27, 2017
SAFIN HAMED (AFP/File)
Court acted in response to a request from the National Security Council headed by PM Haider al-Abadi

An Iraqi court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the chairwoman and two other members of the commission that organized last month's vote for Kurdish independence, a judicial official said.

The court in east Baghdad acted in response to a request from the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar told AFP.

The court issued warrants against chairwoman Hendren Saleh and members Yari Hajji Omar and Wahida Yofo Hermez.

It ruled that the three "organised the referendum in contravention of a ruling by the Iraqi supreme court," which had found the vote unconstitutional and ordered it called off.

The supreme court ruling came one week before the September 25 referendum -- which saw voters overwhelmingly back independence -- but the organizers went ahead with it regardless.

On Monday, Baghdad unleashed a legal barrage against Kurdish officials and sought to seize key businesses in a fresh bid to tighten the screws. 

It had already severed ties between Kurdistan and the outside world by cutting international air links to the region.

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