Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 10:44 UK

Germany jails Iraqi PM plotters

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi
Iyad Allawi stepped down after elections in 2005

A German court has convicted three Iraqi men of plotting to kill former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi during a visit to Germany in 2004.

The court in Stuttgart also convicted them of belonging to Ansar al-Islam - a group reportedly linked to al-Qaeda.

Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid was jailed for 10 years; Rafik Mohamad Yousef and Mazen Ali Hussein were sentenced to eight and seven-and-a-half years respectively.

The three men, who are all ethnic Kurds, denied the charges.

'Hypothetical' attack

The men, aged between 27 and 34, were arrested in Berlin, Augsburg and Stuttgart in December 2004.

During the trial, prosecutors had argued that the three planned to attack Mr Allawi during a business meeting in central Berlin.

Lawyers for the three co-defendants had said they had no access to weapons or explosives and talked about an attack only hypothetically.

Mr Allawi visited Germany in 2004 to discuss investment and military training in Iraq.

Prior to his brief visit, Ansar al-Islam - a predominantly Kurdish group operating in northern Iraq - had urged its followers to assassinate Mr Allawi.

Mr Allawi's government took office in June 2004 when the US-led coalition handed over sovereignty 14 months after invading Iraq.

He stepped down after elections in January 2005.

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