Following deadly protests, Iraq refers 9 senior officials for corruption charges

Following deadly protests, Iraq refers 9 senior officials for corruption charges

2019/10/11 | 20:55 - Source: kurdistan 24

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – After a wave of deadly anti-corruption protests across much of Iraq, the nation's Supreme Council for Combating Corruption said on Friday it had referred the files of nine senior Iraqi officials and roughly 400 others to judicial authorities.

Though the council has held a series of sessions to review various corruption cases, it has only decided on a small number of them.

Iraq, which has one of the world's largest oil reserves but faces chronic deficiencies in governance and properly functioning institutions, is ranked 169th out of 180 in Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index.

The council said in a statement that the referred cases "concern nine senior officials.

After strengthening the evidence, completing the appropriate procedures, and forming a follow-up team to hold meetings in coordination with judicial authorities, we are giving the [cases] priority and will resolve them as soon as possible."

Though the statement did not identify any of the officials by name, it added that the files included "two ministers and two former undersecretaries in the ministries of Industry and Minerals, Transport, Communication, Higher Education, and Health, plus another former minister."

Other files referred to the judiciary concern four former governors of the provinces of Babylon, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Salahuddin, according to the statement.

"Other files will be duly referred to the judiciary to acquit or convict the accused in accordance with the law."

Iraq's official news agency said in a report Friday the list also included more than 400 additional officials, including former and current lawmakers, ministers, and other senior officials.

It quoted an official source as saying that the list of names would be issued in two batches as part of the government's purported efforts to fight corruption.

Since massive demonstrations began in Baghdad on Oct.

1 and quickly spread to several other cities, the government has been scrambling to gain control of the situation and deal with international condemnation for the violence used by security forces against demonstrators.

Over 100 have been reported killed and thousands wounded. 

Read More: At least 5 dead as protests continue; police make arrests

Protesters have been demanding an end to low standards of living, increased job opportunities, improved public services, and an end to rampant institutional corruption.

At an extraordinary session on Saturday night called by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, the Council of Ministers issued its first package of  "important decisions," reforms intended to address demonstrators' grievances.

Read More: Special Iraqi cabinet session passes resolutions in response to protests 

Previous announcements of anti-corruption measures and reforms by Abdul Mahdi's predecessors, though sometimes temporarily placating protesters, have fallen far short of effective implementation or meaningful change. 

Editing by John J.


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