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Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said Monday the terror trial of the country's fugitive Sunni vice president will begin Thursday.

Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said the trial will focus on three charges out of 150 cases in which Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has been linked to death squads against Shiites and government officials.

Al-Hashemi, the country's top Sunni official, is now in Turkey and it is unlikely that he will appear in court. He has vowed to not return to Baghdad to face what he calls politically motivated charges.

In a statement, Bayrkdar said Thursday's trial will examine the assassinations of officials at the National Security and Interior ministries and a lawyer. He didn't give details on why only three charges were chosen.

Last December and days after the U.S. military withdrawal, Iraq's Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against al-Hashemi, touching off an ongoing political crisis and deepening the country's sectarian divide.

Also Monday, authorities said a mother and three children were found stabbed to death in their house in eastern Baghdad in what they say was an apparent robbery.

A police officer said the four were found early morning in their house in the mainly Shiite area of Kamaliyah. The children ranged in age from four to 10 years old.

The criminals escaped with some money and jewelry, he added.

A health official at a nearby morgue confirmed the incident. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

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