Thursday, 5 November 2015

A former Iraqi environment minister has been sentenced to two years in prison for corruption and ordered to pay some $280,000 to the state, the judiciary said Thursday.

Sargon Lazar Slewa, a Christian who served in former premier Nuri al-Maliki’s government, was tried on charges “related to corruption,” a judicial statement said.

The statement did not give details on Slewa’s actions, or say when he was detained. He served as a minister during Maliki’s second term in office, which ended in 2014.

Widespread public anger over corruption and poor services led to weeks of protests earlier this year, pushing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to announce a series of reforms aimed at streamlining the government and combatting graft.

But the endemic nature of corruption in Iraq and the fact that officials are limiting their own privileges by implementing some changes are major obstacles to reform.

And while officials such as Slewa are periodically punished for graft, more powerful politicians who have allegedly engaged in far greater corruption remain at large.