Iraq ex-electoral chief says cleared of graft

AFP , Tuesday 16 Oct 2012

Iraqi appeals court reverses conviction of former electoral chief Faraj Al-Haidari, who was initially questioned on corruption charges along with two other senior officials

Iraq's former electoral chief Faraj Al-Haidari said an appeals court on Tuesday reversed a corruption conviction and one-year prison sentence against him and two other senior officials.

"We were informed by the judiciary that the federal appeals court has cancelled the verdict, and all the measures that were taken against us," Haidari told AFP.

"This is a final decision, which was issued by the highest judicial authority in the country."

Judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar did not respond to multiple attempts by AFP to request comment, but a diplomat with knowledge of the case confirmed Haidari's account.

Haidari and two other Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) commissioners, Karim Al-Tamimi and Osama Al-Ani, were sentenced on 28 August, effectively barring them from public office for life as anyone convicted of a criminal offence cannot hold a civil service position in Iraq.

Verdicts against all three were reversed on Tuesday.

They were arrested in April on charges of corruption, having allegedly paid a bonus of 150,000 dinars ($130) to an employee of Iraq's state property commission in order to secure better-located government-allotted plots of land.

There is bad blood between Haidari and Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's State of Law list over the aftermath of 2010 parliamentary elections, in which the premier's list came in second to the Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi.

The State of Law list sought a vote of no confidence in Haidari on 30 July, 2011, for alleged corruption, but failed because other parties opposed it.

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