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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 17:12 GMT
Poles held in Iraq bribe inquiry
Polish troops in Iraq
Five officers are under investigation for allegedly taking bribes
Polish authorities have arrested five officers suspected of taking bribes while serving in Iraq.

They were allegedly receiving money from companies hoping to be granted reconstruction contracts.

The Polish defence ministry said two of them had been caught red-handed as they returned from Iraq in early February with $90,000 (46,706).

Armed forces prosecutors are currently leading the preliminary phase of an investigation into the scandal.

The officers, including a colonel and two majors, are thought to have accepted money from both US and Iraqi companies.

They were stopped at a Polish airport upon returning from Iraq and could not explain where the money had come from, the Polish authorities said.

Two civilian workers have also been arrested as part of the same investigation.

Meanwhile, Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski told a news conference on Friday that troops were likely to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year.

"We are confident that 2005 will be a decisive year, and will allow either a withdrawal or a significant reduction of the Polish presence," he said.

"But in a question so important, you can't make decisions irresponsibly or tendentiously - certain countries have made such decisions overnight, and I don't think that helped stability in Iraq," he added.

Poland has 1,700 soldiers in Iraq, and leads a multinational security force south of Baghdad.





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