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Iraqis probe prison break by ex-electricity minister convicted of corruption

[JURIST] Iraqi authorities are investigating the escape from prison of a former head of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity [official website]. Ayham al-Samaraie [Wikipedia profile], a member of the 2004-2005 interim Iraqi government [BBC backgrounder], was serving a two-year sentence after being convicted on corruption charges [AP report] brought by Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity [US State Dept. backgrounder; CPA press release]. He is so far the only post-war Iraqi cabinet member to have been found guilty of corruption, despite its status as a massive public policy problem widely acknowledged by top Iraqi and US [JURIST reports] officials.

An Iraqi official said Monday that Al-Samaraie, who holds dual US-Iraqi citizenship, had escaped from police custody at a prison in Baghdad. He still faces another 12 corruption charges stemming from over $2 billion in funding for Iraq's electrical infrastructure which has gone missing. The Ministry of Electricity has been a focal point of massive problems and several probes since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In August this year Al-Samaraie successor Muhsin Shlash, an Iraqi exile formerly living in Canada, was named [JURIST report] as one of a number of former and current department officials ordered by the Public Integrity Commission to appear before Iraqi judges for further corruption investigations. AP has more.

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