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48 Sr. Iraqi officials had corruption charges dropped: Integrity Commmission

2018-09-17

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SULAIMANI — The former head of the Integrity Commission, Hassan al-Yasiri, has claimed that forty-eight high ranking officials were investigated on charges of corruption, but not convicted because of insufficient evidence, in the past three years.

Al-Baghdadiya newspaper reported on Sunday (September 16) that Yasiri, who resigned as head of the Integrity Committee five months ago, said in a speech on Saturday that it is difficult to convince the judiciary of crimes by ministers and that this fact exposed the weakness of the legal structure that is tasked with prosecuting corruption.

He said that during his tenure as chairman of the commission, he presented twenty bills to parliament to amend existing laws and legislation to combat new forms of corruption that have taken root since the legislation was written.

He said that rhetoric from the political elite, the parliament, and the government is not enough and that legislation must be enacted commensurate with the type of the crimes now being committed.

He noted that "since the enactment of the Iraqi Penal Code of 1969, new [legislation] has not been passed [to deal with modern crime], the most prominent of which are internet crimes and electronic counterfeiting."

Regarding the problem of convincing the judiciary of corruption perpetrated by ministers, Yasiri said that most cases referred to the judiciary are dismissed because the judge is not convinced of the evidence or because of differences in interpretation of the legal guidelines.

"The difficulty of establishing evidence as requested by the judiciary [means that] the criminal must be caught in the act or observed by witnesses," he said.

"We have charged officials and governors, but because of the law they have been released. There are disadvantages in the law that have caused thousands of charges to be dropped and those files closed," he said.

He declined to reveal the names of the officials who may now be or have been under investigation and have not been convicted or sentenced.

"During the past three years, ministers in the current and former governments and governors have been referred to the Integrity Commission.”

He noted that during his years in charge of the commission, he investigated forty-eight high-ranking officials, including the current deputy prime ministers.

"I investigated them and sent their files to the judiciary," he said, but lamented that weak legal structures and implementation procedures have allowed certain figures to walk free.

(NRT)