Iraq PM to Charge Anti-Corruption Judge Over Testimony Before Congress

Editor's Note: After Radhi al-Radhi testified to Congress that rampant corruption was fueling a significant amount of the civil conflict in Iraq, war-supporters here in the U.S. attacked him mercilessly (See David Corn's "Iraq's Top Coruption Judge Testifies; GOPers Attack"). Now it appears that the other shoe is dropping.

Iraq's government announced Sunday it will take legal action against the former head of an anti-corruption committee who told US lawmakers this week that rampant graft is blocking progress in Iraq.

"The government will sue the former head of the Commission on Public Integrity (Judge Radhi al-Radhi), for smuggling official documents and for defaming the prime minister," the premier's office said in a statement.

"We will work on getting him back to Iraq to submit him to the judiciary to investigate administrative and financial corruption charges against him," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office said.

Radhi and a group of colleagues headed to Washington in August to undergo training with the US Justice Department.

Maliki at the time accused him of fleeing the country to avoid being tried on graft charges and replaced him as head of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), a position he had held since 2004, by Moussa Faraj.

Radhi denies the graft allegations or that he has fled, saying he intends returning to Iraq once his training course is over and still regards himself as head of the CPI.

He told the US Congress on Thursday that corruption was affecting virtually every government ministry and that some of the most powerful officials in Iraq are implicated.

He estimated that corruption has cost Iraq as much as 18 billion dollars and has helped spawn sectarian militias, hampered political reconciliation and affected Iraq's oil industry.

The statement from Maliki's office said Radhi's testimony to Congress "is no more than fake allegations… aimed at defaming the reputation of the prime minister.

"Radhi al-Radhi sought asylum in the United States after entering that country with a diplomatic passport," it said.

It accused the judge of "chasing minor corruption issues while overlooking large corruption problems involving political parties and figures."

"The head of the CPI escaped Iraq to avoid legal proceedings relating to the the financial corruption he is himself involved in," it said.

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