New revelations emerge over decade-old murder of Kurdish journalist Kawa Garmyani
The main criminal who assassinated Kurdish journalist Kawa Garmyani in the Iraqi Kurdistan region more than a decade ago has confessed he was fulfilling orders from his peers, the wife of the murdered journalist told The New Arab on the tenth anniversary of his assassination.
Garmyani, an anti-corruption investigative journalist, was assassinated outside his home in the town of Kalar, south of the Sulaimaniyah province, on 5 December 2013. Garmyani had published several reports alleging corruption among Kurdish politicians, especially those in the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
"After ten years of killing Kawa Garmyani, we continuously collect proofs and documents so that we can present it again to the courts in a proper time and conditions," Shirin Amin, spouse of Kawa and a previous lawmaker in the parliament of the Kurdistan region told TNA over the phone from Kalar.
Twana Khaleefa was sentenced to death for killing the journalist by a criminal court on 26 October 2014. Afterwards, Garmyani's case was permanently closed by the Kurdish judiciary.
"This year, we disclose new revelations on the case for the public," Amin added. "Twana, the criminal who PUK officials had ordered to kill Kawa in the last session of his trial, had confessed that he killed Kawa alone, but following our follow-ups and meeting him twice in the jail, he confessed to everything. We have documented those confessions."
Amin also stated that the criminal had confessed he, with the help of his brother, had killed Kawa.
"Twana himself fired bullets at Kawa, and his brother was driving a car. All those who were behind Kawa's assassination have killed Twana's brother to stop him [from revealing the truth] in a scheme covered to be conducted by the Islamic State militants," Amin continued. "We have other details of those who were exactly behind the killing, but we will preserve that information for the time of a renewed trial on the case, whether in the Kurdistan region courts or outside Iraq."
Mahmoud Sangawi, a PUK commander and former politburo member, emerged as the primary suspect in the murder case. In a phone conversation posted on YouTube in July 2012, Sangawi was purportedly recorded threatening Garmyani and referring to him as a "son of a dog." Sangawi has not contested the legitimacy of the recorded "son of a dog" conversation. Although briefly detained in January 2014, he was released due to insufficient evidence, as reported by news sources. Throughout the proceedings, Sangawi has consistently asserted his innocence regarding the murder.
She also stressed that the judiciary in the Kurdistan region is not independent, and Kawa's case was closed similarly to other slain journalists.
She disclosed that they, as relatives of Kawa, have made tireless efforts on the case, and met with several foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations. She said they had given all the details of the case to a committee overseas so that foreign lawyers in the future could file a legal case outside Iraq against all those who were behind the murder.
She confirmed that they are under continuous threats for pursuing the case, but she would not stop seeking justice.
Kawa Ahmad Mohammed, also recognised as Kawa Garmyani, was born in 1982 in Iran during his family's period of exile.
He couldn't complete his education due to his family's financial struggles, as disclosed by his relatives.
Garmyani gained prominence as a Kurdish anti-corruption journalist, actively investigating senior officials' misconduct in Kalar. Serving as the editor-in-chief of Rayal magazine and working as a correspondent for Awene newspaper, he met a tragic end similar to several other Kurdish journalists.
Soran Mama Hama, a Kurdish journalist associated with the independent Kurdish-language magazine Lvin, was tragically killed by gunmen near the northern city of Kirkuk in July 2008.
Sardasht Osman, a Kurdish critical journalist, met a similar fate in May 2010. His death followed the publication of an article criticising the ruling Barzani family. These incidents underscore journalists' challenges and risks in exposing corruption and promoting transparency in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.