Corruption case against Iraqi parliamentary speaker closed

Corruption case against Iraqi parliamentary speaker closed
2 min read
10 August, 2016
The Iraqi judiciary on Tuesday closed a graft case against speaker Salim al-Juburi only a week after he was accused of corruption by Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi.
Juburi had denied the accusations against him [Anadolu]

The Iraqi judiciary on Tuesday made the shock decision of closing a corruption case against parliamentary speaker Salim al-Juburi, citing a lack of evidence to proceed further.

"Evidence against Salim Abdullah al-Juburi is insufficient, so it was therefore decided to release him and close the case," a judicial statement said.

The decision comes only a week after Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi sparked a political row by accusing Juburi and several other lawmakers of corruption.

The speaker was never detained but a travel ban was slapped on him and two lawmakers named in the defence minister’s allegations.

Earlier Tuesday, parliament had voted to lift the immunity of the parliamentary speaker and two MPs to allow a commission to investigate the allegations against them.

Juburi then testified in front of a commission, and shortly later the announcement was made that the case against him was to be closed.

Juburi had denied the accusations against him, which Obeidi made while appearing in parliament to answer graft allegations he said were brought in retribution for his rejection of corruption.

The accusations against Juburi and the lawmakers are just the latest problems in a tumultuous year for the Iraqi legislature.

Obeidi told lawmakers that the speaker, four sitting lawmakers, one former lawmaker and two parliamentary officials affiliated with the speaker had tried to persuade him to secure specific contracts and to reinstate employees fired due to corruption.

Obeidi said the parliament speaker promised him "a political future" if he cooperated.

He said that one lawmaker tried to push him to sign several high-value deals with specific companies, including a $1 billion catering contract, a $2.8 billion deal for armored vehicles and a $421 million deal for Humvees.

Corruption is widespread in Iraq's government, from senior officials to low-level functionaries, and while Iraqis have repeatedly demonstrated for change in the past year, little in the way of real reform has taken place.

The accusations against Juburi and the lawmakers are just the latest problems in a tumultuous year for the Iraqi legislature.

Parliament was deadlocked for weeks over Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's efforts to replace the cabinet.

At one point it had two rival claimants to the speakership, and was stormed by angry protesters, among other incidents.

The latest turmoil in parliament comes as Iraqi forces conduct operations to set the stage for an assault on Mosul, which has been held by IS jihadists since June 2014.