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Former Iraqi Trade Minister Arrested at Airport

Police have arrested Iraq's former trade minister in connection with corruption allegations, after he tried to leave the country.

The chairman of the parliamentary integrity commission, Sabah al-Saedi, told reporters Saturday that ex-minister Falah al-Sudani had tried to escape on a plane headed to the United Arab Emirates, but the flight was ordered to turn around so authorities could take him into custody.

Sudani resigned earlier this month and was questioned by parliament about allegations his relatives at the Trade Ministry took millions of dollars in kickbacks for import contracts.

The Trade Ministry buys sugar, lentils and other food and household goods to supply a national rationing program.

The accusations led to the arrest of one of the former minister's brothers and prompted another to go into hiding.

The case gained national attention after a video surfaced apparently showing one of Sudani's brothers and another trade ministry official drinking with scantily clad women.

Officials say the former trade minister will be formally charged by a public integrity commission judge in the coming days.

The commission, which is charged with fighting graft, announced Wednesday that close to 1,000 officials are being investigated, including more than 50 high-ranking officials.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is under pressure to tackle government corruption ahead of a parliamentary election early next year. His office took over the Trade Ministry earlier this week.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.