The release of those accused of the theft of the century.. Iraqi experts talk to Al-Jazeera Net about the possibility of returning the looted funds | Policy
Baghdad– The process of releasing the first defendant for what is known in Iraq as the “theft of the century”, businessman Nour Zuhair, caused great controversy in legal circles and the media among those who believe that the court’s procedure is to release him on bail. until the rest of the money from the theft is recovered, and those who confirm that there are other ways of recovering the rest of the money without resorting to his release, and the trial after the return of the stolen money in full.
And the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a Al-Sudani, announced – at a press conference on November 27 – the return of part of the stolen money from the tax secretaries, confirming the return of 182 billion dinars (about 125 million dollars), or 5% of the original stolen amount, which amounts to about 2.5 billion dollars, which is deposited in the state bank Rafidain.
Al-Sudani said the judge in charge issued an order for Nour Zuhair to be released on bail, in exchange for his promise to hand over the entire stolen amount within two weeks from the date, indicating that the bulk of the amount the accused has is real estate and property, indicating the existence of an agreement between the second Karkh Court of Inquiry in Baghdad and the accused to schedule full restitution of the amount in his possession.
Commenting on the temporary release of the accused on bail, the former head of the Integrity Commission, Musa Faraj, confirmed that theft of state funds is a crime punishable by 10 years in prison under the Iraqi Penal Code, noting that the Inclusion Law of 1994 went further; It is stipulated that a person convicted of the crime of embezzlement or theft of state funds may not be released after serving his sentence unless the stolen funds are returned, adding that “the crime of theft generally differs depending on the circumstances of its commission”. , with the indication that the penalty for this is from temporary to life imprisonment.”
Faraj indicated – to Al-Jazeera Net – that the sentence in the inclusion law depends on the legal stipulation of the charge by the judge, and therefore the judge may see that she is covered by bail, and another judge may not share his opinion, explaining that the amount of the theft is huge and that the criminal offense particularly affects state funds, so this does not leave room only as a criminal offense and has all the elements of aggravating circumstances.
Explaining the procedure for releasing the defendants on bail, which has caused controversy in legal circles, Judge Diyaa Jaafar of the Karkh Investigative Court in Baghdad, specializing in integrity issues, said that the process of releasing the first defendants in the theft of the tax secretaries on financial guarantee took place on the basis of what which is stated in the Law on Criminal Procedure. After the accused expressed his willingness to hand over the sums of money owed by his companies and make a financial settlement within a certain period, indicating that all the real estate that the accused had bought will be confiscated and the seizure will not be lifted until the end of the investigation .
Earlier, Jaafar indicated – in an interview with the Iraqi News Agency (INA) – that the accused will be referred to a competent court to be tried in due course after he pays the full amount he owns, showing that the court accepts What the accused has offered monetary settlements is due to absence of legal impediment. In addition, the collection of stolen monetary amounts after the passing of final judgments requires lengthy procedures of enforcement departments for the sale of real estate through auctions, which can be extended for a long period of time, he said.
According to Jaafar, the accused has real estate and investments that exceed the total amount of money stolen from tax insurance, since he ruled out the possibility of the accused fleeing the country after being released on bail, compared to the size of his investment and real estate seized by the court, given that this would enable the state to confiscate them.
a dangerous precedent
As for the former head of the Integrity Commission, Judge Rahim Al-Aqili (2008-2011), in an interview with the media, he described the decision to release the main suspect on bail as a “dangerous precedent” in the history of Iraqi justice. , pointing out that “it is not possible to release any amount of money to the defendant for theft.” From state funds, whether ordinary or large, but he must be placed in custody until the day of the trial, especially since all the evidence that he committed the crime has been proven, and he has publicly confessed to the theft.
Meanwhile, legal expert Ali Al-Tamimi believes that the investigating judge has the authority to release the accused according to the legal materials, stressing – in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net – that the court procedure for releasing the first accused in what is known as the “theft of the century” on bail is correct and in accordance with Iraqi law. And that it occurred in accordance with the principles of criminal trial, and within the authority of the investigating judge, in accordance with two legal articles (109 and 110) of the Law on Criminal Procedure, because legally the article under which the defendant was arrested accepts bail on the condition of surrendering the amounts in question.
Article (109) of the Iraqi Criminal Code no. (111) from 1969 states, and among the special cases provided by the law, “the court may order that a person sentenced to a prison sentence of one year or more be placed under police supervision, and upon the expiration of the sentence for not less than one year.” It cannot last longer than the term of the imposed sentence, with the proviso that in no case can it be longer than five years,” the article states. Al-Tamimi.
And he adds for Al-Jazeera Net that article (110) stipulates that the period of supervision begins “from the day specified in the decision for its implementation, and the date set for its expiration is not extended if it cannot be implemented due to the convict serving a prison sentence or from some for reasons absent from the place of supervision.”
He explained that this procedure does not mean dropping the charges against the accused, but that the case will be forwarded to the competent court, according to the article of the indictment after the investigative actions have been carried out, indicating that this procedure is applied in addition to the criminal policy aimed at realizing the public interest according to the rule “If are two interests in conflict, priority is given to the public interest.” private,” according to Tamima.
property of the accused
And on how to turn the real estate into funds that would be successively returned to the state treasury, financial expert Mahmoud Dagher confirmed that the stolen money will be returned to the state banks after it is recovered from the accused of theft, which indicates that the acquittal of the accused Nour Zuhair, came because of the presence of a large number of real estate that he bought, which were not registered. In his own name, he is camouflaged, and thus he has to deal with those who return those real estates.
In an address to Al-Jazeera Net, Dagher asked what is the fate of the money that was transferred abroad in the theft itself, especially since this issue requires proof, calculation and assessment to complete the case, and then hand it over to the international police. (Interpol), and this is possible if the intentions, as he said, are true.
And as for the possibility of recovering smuggled money outside of Iraq and how to bring it back to the country, the legal advisor of the Iraqi Transparency Initiative, lawyer Muhammad Majeed Al-Saadi confirms to Al-Jazeera Net that it is possible and that there may be no need for Interpol, because it depends on the extent of cooperation of the defendant himself in returning that money in exchange for an agreement to reduce the penalties against him, which would make the return mechanism easy and possible.
And as for the possibility of prolonging the accused’s negligence in returning the money, Al-Saadi explains that this is also possible, especially since the Karkh Investigative Court made a decision to release the accused for only one reason, which is the return of movable property. money (cash) and real estate (real estate, property and land), noting that it is possible for the Court to extend the extension until the largest amount of these funds is collected and returned to the state treasury, with the possibility of sale. state banks, or accused of registering these assets in the name of the Ministry of Finance itself, or selling them to private banks, according to Al-Saadi.
Nour Zuhair was arrested on October 24, at the behest of then-Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanmi, during Zuhair’s attempt to flee the country via Baghdad International Airport on a private plane, while the Iraqi judiciary issued arrest and travel warrants. injunctions against authorized directors Several companies have been accused of stealing $2.5 billion from tax secretaries.
It is worth noting that the accused, whose full name is Nour Zuhair Jassim Al-Muzaffar, and a secret businessman, whose nickname is Abu Fatima, was born in Baghdad in 1980, where he previously worked in Iraqi ports, before working as a consultant. in the office of the head of the former Parliamentary Finance Committee.
Reports indicate that Nour Zuhair owns more than 20 luxury properties in Baghdad, as well as funds and companies.