Bashdar Omer Faqe, an Iraqi Presidential Guard and member of the Kurdish Peshmerga, has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing Saeer Kazim Akral, the assistant manager of the municipality in Dora neighbourhood in Baghdad, when Akral failed to stop at a checkpoint being manned by the Bashdar. The Iraqi court sentenced the guard after having found him guilty of murder and reckless negligence. The incident occurred on the night of August 22, 2017 in Baghdad. According to reports, Bashdar ordered the vehicle to stop for inspection but the driver continued on without heeding the multiple warnings that were given before Bashdar opened fire.

Bashdar’s brother, Diyar Omer told local media, “In our investigations, we have found the case has been politicized, and the court has made the decision under pressure. My brother mistakenly shot the deputy head of the Dorah municipality of Baghdad.” He added that, “The Republic’s Presidency should have reached reconciliation with the family of the killed so that things would not have reached this stage.” Diyar blamed the presidency for the guilty verdict and believes that his brother took the correct course of action given the circumstances.

In Kurdish culture the perpetrator usually pays some form of compensation (usually in the form of money) to the victim or their family to settle matters such as this, but when there is no means to pay it is often taken to the courts. Despite Bashdar’s actions as a checkpoint guard and him following proper use/escalation of force procedures for his position and the situation at hand, he was found guilty because of the officials political, social, and economic standing in Kurdish society. Bashdar’s brother has confirmed that his family will be seeking to appeal the sentence if they cannot persuade the presidency to do it.

A Peshmerga lieutenant with the Presidential Guard shot and killed a journalist/Iraqi university professor, Mohammed Bidaiwi Shammari, in 2014 when he refused to stop at a checkpoint. At the time Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, promised to seek vengeance for the death of the professor. For this reason, the majority of Peshmerga checkpoint guards carry their weapons in condition 3, an empty chamber with a magazine inserted and the safety on; just to ensure extra steps must be taken to shoot someone in the line of duty. This raises serious issues when a real threat occurs and not only is the weapon not in a ready to use state but the mind of the guard will always second guess his actions for fear of serious repercussions from the government.

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