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Owners of Mosul ferry arrested after deadly disaster: Iraq judiciary

The owners and engineers of he vessel were arrested in Iraq [File Photo: AFP]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2019

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Iraq's judiciary said the owners of a ferry that capsized in Mosul killing 100 people have been arrested.

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Iraq, Ferry, Mosul,
The owners of a ferry that capsized in Mosul killing 100 people have been arrested along with engineers who had allegedly certified the vessel, Iraq's judiciary said on Sunday.

"The committee set up to investigate the sinking of the ferry announced the arrest of the boat's owners" along with three engineers who "had certified that it complied with regulations", the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement.

The boat was packed with families from the northern city, a former bastion of the Islamic State group, crossing the River Tigris to celebrate the Kurds' Nowruz New Year holiday.

Most of the victims of the accident on March 21, Iraqi Mother's Day, were women and children. The strong current washed some bodies miles downstream and dozens of people are still missing.

The tragedy came after authorities had warned that water levels were dangerously high, and sparked anger among Iraqis who blamed official corruption and neglect.

The judiciary did not name the owners who were arrested, but said they were caught in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

Their cases have been transferred to a panel of three judges and a prosecutor, it said.

The Iraqi parliament has fired the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the main city, who has gone on the run.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant has been issued for Nawfel Akoub a week after the ferry disaster.

The warrant, issued by Nineveh justice officials, calls for the arrest of Akoub under Article 340 of Iraqi Penal Code 111 (1969) concerning integrity and the wasting of public funds, Rudaw reported.

The warrant for corruption charges, which includes a travel ban, was issued a day after Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said his government would hit those responsible for the ferry disaster "powerfully with the fist of justice". 

His two deputies were also fired during a vote in the national assembly.

Sixteen people have been arrested as part of an investigation into the ferry capsize, a security official said last week.

When the ex-governor visited the scene of the tragedy the day after stones were thrown at his convoy by protesters demonstrating against perceived corruption and neglect.

Mosul's Civil Defence Authority Husam Khalil said that the boat was over capacity when it capsized - carrying 250 people when it should have normally been carrying only 50.

The sinking of the ferry was a tragic blow to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city that is still struggling to overcome the devastation wreaked by the Islamic State group.

The ferry disaster took place in the first Nowruz celebrations allowed in the area for years, since the defeat of IS.

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