Ex-minister arrested at airport

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s former trade minister wanted on a corruption charge was detained today at the Baghdad airport after attempting to leave the country, a senior lawmaker said.

The plane carrying Abdul-Falah al-Sudani was ordered back to Baghdad during its flight to Dubai so that an arrest warrant could be served, said Sabah al-Saedi, the chairman of the parliamentary integrity committee.

The arrest comes in the midst of a government crackdown on corruption. So far hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued since the beginning of the year against officials — including 51 in high-level positions.

He is charged with of mismanaging the ministry by importing expired foods, engaging in illegal contracts and employing relatives, said Judge Rahim al-Ogaili, the head of the Commission on Public Integrity.

Al-Sudani, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party, resigned shortly after appearing before parliament earlier this month to answer allegations of corruption.

His brothers are accused of having skimmed millions of dollars in kickbacks on food imports.