Iraqi Court Acquits Legislator for Making Trip to Israel

Court determines Alusi never breached law, despite fact Baghdad technically considers Israel enemy state.

An Iraqi court on Monday acquitted a legislator on Monday whom the government had prosecuted for making a trip to Israel, ruling that his visit was not actually against Iraqi law, the defense lawyer said.

The Iraqi government had accused member of parliament Mithal al-Alusi of committing a crime by visiting a country Iraq considers an enemy, in breach of a law it said had been retained since the rule of late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Like most Arab countries, Iraq has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Members of parliament voted to strip him of his legal immunity in September, over the trip he made earlier that month for a conference on terrorism and security.

The court affirmed that there is no explicit law against visiting Israel, even though passports issued by Saddam's Iraq warned recipients that they were not allowed to go there. Passports no longer carry that prohibition.

"There is no law preventing any Iraqi from travelling to any country," Alusi's lawyer Tariq Harb told Reuters.

He said the court had restored Alusi's immunity and that parliament had had no constitutional right to strip him of it.

"Alusi will regain all his rights," he said, adding that he would resume work at parliament soon.

Alusi, a secular Sunni politician, says he was the victim of a campaign against him because of his outspoken views against Shi'ite Muslim Iran, an ally to many of Iraq's ruling elite.