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Interpol returns ex-minister wanted for corruption to Iraq

Iraqis have demonstrated against corruption in the country (AFP)

Date of publication: 25 January, 2018

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Interpol has handed over Iraq's former trade minister, the first Iraqi collaboration with the international police body.
Interpol Thursday handed over to Iraq a former minister arrested in Beirut over a conviction for corruption, in a first such collaboration with the international police body, a government source said.

"Former trade minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani has landed in Baghdad after having been handed over by Interpol," the source told AFP.

"It's the first time that Interpol responds to a government request at that level."

Sudani, who is now aged 70 and also holds citizenship of Britain where he studied, served as trade minister from 2006 to 2009, following the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Placed on an Interpol wanted list in June 2014, he was arrested at Beirut airport in September last year.

In 2012, the former minister, who belongs to the Dawa party of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, was sentenced in absentia to seven years imprisonment for corruption.

He was linked to a scandal over the import of adulterated tea products during his mandate.

In 2009, he was arrested as he tried to flee the country after having been sacked and charged. He was released on payment of a bail of $43,000 but again fled.

Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity, in a statement, welcomed what it called "years of efforts which led to his extradition" following contacts with Interpol and Britain over fraud involving overpriced imports.   

Under an amnesty law, Iraqi officials can escape jail terms if they pay sums which have allegedly been pilfered from public coffers.

Abadi, whose country ranks as the world's 10th most corrupt, said he met Thursday with Interpol's secretary general, Juergen Stock, at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

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