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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Iraq moves to tackle corruption
By Jim Muir
BBC News, Baghdad

The Iraqi parliament has voted to lift the immunity of one of its members so that he can be prosecuted on corruption charges.

Iraqi parliament in session, 5 September
The Iraqi parliament is trying to tackle pervasive corruption
There is widespread concern about corruption and the move is seen as part of a broader drive to eradicate the problem.

Mishaan Jubouri is a powerful Sunni tribal leader and businessman who heads a small group of three members of the current parliament, though he has rarely attended.

Earlier this year he was caught at Baghdad airport carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in a suitcase, reinforcing the belief of many that he was engaged in illicit profiteering.

During the debate on lifting his parliamentary immunity, the head of the integrity commission said that Mr Jubouri had been siphoning off the equivalent of about $75m a month. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

He is believed to be abroad.

The speaker of parliament said Mr Jubouri was willing to return and defend himself but felt unable to travel because there was an Interpol alert for him at all airports and he did not want to be arrested.

The lifting of his immunity, the first time such a thing has happened, is clearly intended as a signal that the current administration is serious about tackling pervasive corruption.

Officials say there are some 1,200 cases pending, including 300 involving former high officials believed to be responsible for embezzling more than $7bn.


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