SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. prosecutors are urging a judge to approve a request to extradite a Phoenix driving school owner to Iraq on charges of involvement in the killings of two police officers in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, according to the Associated Press.
The prosecutors said the evidence provided by Iraqi authorities meets the standard for an American judge to certify an extradition request for Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri, AP reported on Wednesday.
Ahmed who went to the United States as a refugee in 2009 and became a U.S. citizen in 2015 is accused of killing two Iraqi police officers in Fallujah in 2006 as the leader of an al-Qaida group.
Prosecutors cited witnesses as saying that Ahmed was seen at the scene of the killings and that another person who claimed to have been part of the al-Qaida group had implicated him in both deaths, AP said.
Ahmed has denied involvement in the killings and being a member of the group.
His extradition hearing in Phoenix has been scheduled for May 25, according to AP.
His lawyers asked the judge in a filing on Friday to reject Iraq’s extradition request, the Associated Press reported. They said Ahmed’s defense team hadn’t been able to adequately investigate the allegations because of the shutdown of international travel during the pandemic.
They added that Ahmed’s extradition isn’t allowed under a U.S.-Iraq treaty provision that bars extraditions for offenses that are political in nature.
AP cited prosecutors as saying that the American court’s role in the extradition is limited to determine whether there is evidence of probable cause to support each charge. They said ultimately the decision on whether to send Ahmed to Iraq will be up to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s office.
They added that Ahmed’s arrest warrant shows he is wanted for prosecution in Iraq for violations of a law barring premeditated murder, AP said.
A U.S. State Department official said in court records that the United States had regularly extradited fugitives wanted in other countries, even though they haven’t yet been formally charged, according to AP.