Iraq sentences ex-minister to 21 years for corruption

A file picturing showing the former Iraqi trade minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani (L) who was sentenced February 12, 2018 to 21 years in jail for corruption. He is seen in a 2009 picture

Iraq on Monday sentenced a former trade minister to 21 years in jail for corruption, weeks after Interpol handed him to authorities, a government source said. Abdel Falah al-Sudani, who served as trade minister following the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, was handed two seven-year sentences for "negligence" by an anti-corruption court. He was also sentenced to seven additional years for misconduct, bringing the total to 23. Sudani, a 70-year-old who also holds British citizenship, had been placed on an Interpol wanted list in June 2014 and arrested at Beirut's international airport in September last year. Interpol handed him over to Iraqi authorities on January 25. Sudani served as trade minister from 2006 to 2009 in the government of ex-premier Nuri al-Maliki following the 2003 US-led invasion. In 2012, the former minister, who belongs to the Dawa party of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, was sentenced in absentia to seven years imprisonment for corruption, but faced retrial after his arrest and extradition. He still faces trials in six other cases. During his mandate he was linked to a scandal over the importation of adulterated tea. In 2009, he was arrested as he tried to flee Iraq after having been sacked and charged. He was released on payment of a bail of $43,000 but fled again. Iraq in 2016 was ranked 11th from bottom on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. Sudani's return was "the first time that Interpol responds to a government request at that level," a government source said when he was handed over in January.

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