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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Charges against Chalabi 'dropped'
Ahmed Chalabi
The warrant against Ahmed Chalabi was never executed
Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi politician and former US favourite, has said that criminal charges against him in Iraq have been dropped.

A judge issued a warrant in August over an alleged counterfeit operation but no action was taken for Mr Chalabi's arrest when he returned to Iraq.

Mr Chalabi also announced that murder charges had been dropped against his nephew, Salem, currently out of Iraq.

The fact of the charges being dropped could not be immediately confirmed.

On Wednesday morning, Ahmed Chalabi survived what seemed to be an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade.

The BBC's Paul Wood reports from Baghdad that the ups and downs of this one day mirror his political fortunes during the past year.

'Summons'

Salem Chalabi had been charged over the June murder of Haithem Fadhil, director general of the finance ministry.

Salem Chalabi
Salem Chalabi has been living in the UK
"It's a ridiculous charge, that I threatened somebody... there's no proof there," he said soon after learning of the warrant.

His uncle said the murder charge had been replaced with a summons to a court hearing and that Salem would return to face it.

Ahmed Chalabi was quoted by al-Arabiya TV as saying that he had learnt about the dropping of the charges when he personally visited the judge who had issued the warrants earlier in the day.

Judge Zuhair al-Maliki had called for the arrest of both Chalabis when he issued his warrants.

'Assassination bid'

Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, himself announced that he had escaped an assassination attempt which left two of his bodyguards wounded.

He was travelling from Najaf to Baghdad when the attack happened, he said.

"A car started following us and opened fire on our convoy," he told reporters.

Mr Chalabi, a member of Iraq's interim national assembly, had been on his way to attend the assembly's first meeting in Baghdad.



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