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Former Iraqi air force chief takes off after graft conviction

Published: Updated:

Former Iraqi air force chief General Anwar Hamad Amine escaped custody armed with a handgun after being convicted in court of corruption Monday before giving himself up several hours later.

Judiciary and security sources said the general was tried in Karkh, western Baghdad, for corruption and squandering public funds.

He was sentenced to two years in prison, and while being escorted from the courtroom he asked to retrieve personal items from his car, a security source said.

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“He got into the car, where his nephew Colonel Arshad Saleh Mohammed Amine was behind the wheel,” the source said.

The general “pulled a gun on the police lieutenant escorting him and the pair sped off.”

Security forces set up a roadblock but the fugitive “got out of the car and ran off,” the source said.

After being on the run for several hours, the general surrendered to authorities, the sources said.

The case that led to his conviction involved contracts with Iraqi companies.

Graft plagues all sectors of society in Iraq. It holds 21st place in the rankings of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to NGO Transparency International.

More than $400 billion in public funds has gone missing in the oil-rich country since the US-led invasion of 2003 – more than three times the state budget and double its GDP.

A popular protest movement was born in October 2019, with demonstrations in many cities against Iraq’s culture of bribery and corruption.

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