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Iraq judiciary bans speaker from travel over graft claims

AFP , Thursday 4 Aug 2016
Iraq
Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Juburi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Baghdad, January 7, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)
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Iraq's judiciary has imposed a travel ban on the speaker of parliament, two lawmakers and several other people in connection with corruption allegations, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi on Monday told parliament that speaker Salim al-Juburi and several lawmakers were corrupt and had sought to blackmail him.

The next day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said he had ordered a "temporary travel ban" against those under investigation, but Juburi rejected it, saying only the judiciary had the authority to impose such measures.

After hearing testimony from Obeidi, a judiciary commission decided to impose a travel ban on Juburi, lawmakers Mohammed al-Karbouli and Taleb al-Maamari, said spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar.

Four other people were also barred from travel, including a former member of parliament, he said.

The commission, which is investigating the corruption allegations, will also hear testimony from current and former officials, Bayraqdar said.

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

Obeidi also outlined his accusations on social media, including that Juburi was involved in attempting to pass corrupt arms contracts.

A post in on the minister's official Twitter account said Thursday that he would "give his testimony and provide his evidence in corruption cases of a number of politicians and MPs."

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 Abadi's efforts to replace the cabinet, at one point had to rival claimants to the speakership, and was stormed by angry protesters, among other incidents.

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