Iraq’s outgoing election commission chief told AFP that he and two other senior election officials were found guilty of graft on Tuesday and handed suspended one-year prison sentences.
The sentences effectively bar them from public office for life, as anyone convicted of a criminal offence cannot hold a civil service position in Iraq, Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) chief Faraj al-Haidari said.
“Sentence was issued against me, Mr. Karim al-Tamimi and Mr. Osama al-Ani, of one-year suspended prison terms,” Haidari told AFP by telephone.
The judgement was handed down by Rusafa Criminal Court in Baghdad.
The three were arrested in April on charges of corruption, specifically paying 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.
Haidari insisted on Tuesday that any payments made were legal, adding: “I have no idea why (the sentence was handed down). I do not have any relation or role in this issue.”
Alluding to widespread political sectarianism in Iraq, Haidari said, “There is sectarianism even in this verdict — a Shiite, a Sunni and a Kurd,” referring to Tamimi, Ani and himself respectively.
There is bad blood between Haidari, a Shiite Kurd, 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 mainly Sunni-backed Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi.
The State of Law list sought a vote of no confidence in Haidari on July 30, 2011, for alleged corruption, but failed because other parties opposed it.