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Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 20:20 UK

Iraq arrests minister's brother

By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Baghdad

Baghdad residents queue for food rations
The trade ministry is responsible for food rationing

A brother of Iraq's trade minister has been arrested on suspicion of corruption, officials say.

Sabah Mohammed al-Sudany was held at a checkpoint in the south of the country.

News of the arrest came on the same day Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said Iraq needed an anti-corruption campaign to match the fight against insurgents.

Until very recently, the two brothers of the trade minister worked as his aides. But they vanished in late April as they were about to be arrested.

When Iraqi forces went to the ministry to deliver warrants for their arrest, they were greeted by gunshots fired into the air by the ministry's own guards.

The two brothers in the meantime escaped through the back gate.

Embezzlement accusation

The police say they have now arrested one of the brothers, who they believe was trying to flee the country, and that they are still looking for nine other senior trade ministry officials.

All of them are accused of embezzlement and corruption.

The trade ministry is in charge of Iraq's massive food rationing programme and millions of dollars worth of grain imports.

Iraq's anti-corruption agency says these programmes have been marred by fraud. The trade minister denies the allegations.

Prime Minister Maliki says corruption is one of the country's biggest problems and that it has to be confronted.

But the prime minister's critics question whether his own office is free of fraud and bribery.

Fighting corruption in Iraq is not just difficult, it can be dangerous: the country's last anti-corruption boss had to flee Iraq.



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