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Iraq launches probe into death of Korean executive working on Al-Faw port construction

South Korean company Daewoo had been leading the construction of Iraq's Al Faw port [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2020

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An investigation has been launched into the death of Park Il-ho, the director of Daewoo who was working on the construction of Al Faw port in Iraq
Iraqi authorities have launched an investigation into the death of a director of South Korean firm Daewoo, a day after it was reported he had committed suicide in Basra governorate in southern Iraq.

Walid Al Sharifi, the mayor of Al Faw district, confirmed the probe into Park Il-ho's death on Saturday.

Park was leading the Daewoo E&C office which has been working on the construction of the port in Al Faw project.

"The site where the body was found is near the port of Faw, 10 km away, and it is secured by a private company, and there are surveillance cameras," Al Sharifi told local media.

"The Iraqi security services arrived at the scene and began to collect any further criminal evidence," he added.

Iraq's interior minister Othman Al Ghanmi announced the formation of a high-level committee for the investigation, which has travelled to Basra to begin the probe, according to Major General Saad Maan, the ministry's director of communications.

Falih Hadi Hamza, head of media at the transport ministry, said security camera footage was being inspected and Park's body had been moved to hospital.

"The Iraqi government formed a committee from the judiciary and the security forces and went to the scene of incident to investigate the death of the Daewoo company director. The body [is] now under examination in the hospital," said Hamza told The National.

"There are monitoring cameras in Al Faw port that will show if the director was alone or someone accompanied him."

Hamza added that the port site was only accessible to those with a permit, and that a security firm supervised by a British officer was in charge of the safety of the companies operating there, including Daewoo.

"We are looking into the causes of the incident, how and why it happened," he said.

Construction work at the port has been halted since Park's death.

Park is the second Korean executive to die by apparent suicide in Iraq in the past year. 

In 2019, the director of STX, a company constructing power stations and turbines in Iraq, also committed suicide.

The Iraqi government proposed the Al Faw Grand Port project over 10 years ago, however its construction has been hit my major delays caused by financial problems and weak but work on the project has been delayed by financial shortages and unstable soil.

Park's death came just three days after three days after Iraqi authorities signed a contract with the Korean firm to begin implementing the project.

Al Faw is set to become Iraq's only open-sea port, and is hoped to create thousands of jobs. Basra has been especially hard hit by unemployment and erupted into months of protests last year.

The cost of the project is estimated at $5.2 billion.

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