Iraq’s Justice Minister called to court over corruption allegation

On Wednesday, Iraq’s anti-corruption agency declared that a court judge, who is a supporter of a prominent militia leader, has requested that Justice Minister K

haled Shawani appear before them in response to allegations that he blocked a corruption probe.

Judge Haider Hanoun, the head of the agency, alleged in 2016 that Mr Shawani was utilizing his authority to impede the work of the inspectors.

Mr Hanoun revealed that the paperwork he requested from the minister provided evidence of guilt against the accused. The investigation was launched after prison meals were found to be of “poor quality”, with the amount of food provided much less than would be expected for the payments made.

The agency reported that a court summons had been issued to Mr Shawani and a high-ranking official in the ministry as they refused to submit the requested documents.

Mr Shawani has asserted that the companies responsible for supplying food to jails have not fulfilled all of their orders even after receiving payment. He proposed the formation of a committee to keep an eye on the delivery of food to prison facilities. The goal of this initiative is to prevent the sale of goods that should be distributed free of cost to prisoners to avert them from being subjected to extortion.

Until 2016, Mr Hanoun was serving as a judge, however, the Supreme Judicial Council removed him from his post citing accusations of corruption. Over the past two years, he endeavoured and failed to be a part of the Fatah parliamentary bloc that was led by the militia commander Hadi Al Amiri.

Mr Al Amiri is the head of the armed group Badr, which is supported by Iran. In the year 2021, the Judicial High Council named Mr Hanoun to be the head judge at the Maysan Appeals Court.

In November, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani assumed his position and without delay dismissed Ala Al Saadi from the post of the head of the Integrity Commission and designated Mr Hanoun instead, as reported by Utica Risk Services, a business that specializes in political risk analysis in the Middle East.
His selection caused a great disturbance, raising questions about why Mr Al Sudani made his choice.

The invitation of the Justice Minister is a result of the ongoing inquiry regarding the theft of $2.5 billion from a public fund that started in October. Since being elected in October, Mr Al Sudani has consistently expressed his strong commitment to tackling corruption.

Most of Iraq’s prime ministers have promised to combat corruption in Iraq when they begin their tenure in Baghdad, however, since the US-led invasion in 2003, not much has been accomplished in this regard.

According to Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, Iraq is one of the least transparent countries in the world, ranking 157th out of 180 nations.


Image Credit: Bryan Jones/Flickr 

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