Iraq recovers property worth millions after illegal sale

Iraqi women look at the Egypt section of the Baghdad International Fair, Iraq November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Iraq recovers property worth millions after illegal sale

  • In a statement to journalists, the Integrity Commission said it had worked with Baghdad authorities
  • The northern neighborhood of Kadhimiyah is home to a revered Shiite shrine

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government said Wednesday it had retaken ownership of a piece of property in Baghdad worth millions of dollars after it was unlawfully sold to a government official’s wife.
In a statement to journalists, the Integrity Commission said it had worked with Baghdad authorities to recover the land in Kadhimiyah district.
“The Baghdad-Karakh appeals court issued a decision to seize the property, which amounts to 12,642 square meters, from the wife of a leading official in the previous government and re-register it in the name of the Mayorality,” the statement said.
“The land registration in the name of the official’s wife has been nullified, as well as all subsequent registrations,” it added.
The northern neighborhood of Kadhimiyah is home to a revered Shiite shrine, as well as some of the city’s most luxurious properties — priced at up to $10,000 per square meter.
The Integrity Commission said its investigation had revealed the official had sold the property to his wife in violation of laws regulating the lease or sale of state-owned property.
It did not reveal the official’s identity, but a parliamentary source told AFP the accused had briefly served as a deputy to Iraq’s former prime minister, Haidar Al-Abadi.
In Baghdad, abandoned homes once belonging to Saddam Hussein-era officials or to minorities who have fled abroad are regularly occupied by powerful political parties.
Iraq, according to Transparency International, is the 12th most corrupt country in the world.
The embezzlement of public goods — from land to government funds — is a deeply rooted problem in a country with such a large public sector.
Corruption, shell companies and “phantom” public employees who receive salaries but do not work have cost Iraq the equivalent of $228 billion dollars since 2003, according to Iraq’s parliament.
That figure is more than the country’s gross domestic product and nearly three times the annual budget.


Israeli police arrest 19 Palestinians at Jerusalem holy site

Updated 20 February 2019
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Israeli police arrest 19 Palestinians at Jerusalem holy site

JERUSALEM: Israeli police say they have arrested 19 Palestinians as clashes broke out at a contested Jerusalem holy site.
Police say dozens of Palestinians participated in a prayer protest Tuesday, attempting to breach a section of the compound that has been closed by Israeli court order for years.
Palestinian medics reported that several protesters were injured in the standoff.
The incident follows a similar scuffle on Monday in which Palestinians tried to break the gate that Israel placed on the closed area last week.
The compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.
Any trace of Israeli security interference in the shrine, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, can ignite violence.