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Coalition Forces Arrest Iraqi Interim Governor on Corruption Charges - 2003-06-30

Coalition forces in Iraq have arrested the interim governor of the southern Najaf region on corruption charges.

A senior coalition official says the interim governor of Najaf, Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im, was removed from office and arrested Monday for several alleged crimes.

The charges against him include kidnapping and holding hostages, stealing money, pressuring government employees to commit financial crimes, and attacking a bank official.

Although he was arrested by coalition forces, Mr. Abdul Mun'im, the official says, will be tried in an Iraqi court under Iraqi law, with an amendment allowing him to have a lawyer. It is not clear when the trial will take place.

Mr. Abdul Mun'im was appointed as governor of Najaf by the military commanders in the area. The coalition official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the coalition authorities admit they made a mistake in choosing him.

He said to his knowledge, no other interim provincial governors are under investigation.

The coalition official said Iraqi civilian administrator Paul Bremer is particularly distressed to learn that Mr. Abdul Mun'im abused his political office, but said the case should make it clear that all Iraqi citizens, no matter what their rank or status, will be held accountable for their actions.

The deputy governor of Najaf will serve as interim governor until a new one can be chosen by the new Najaf Provincial Council, which will be established next week.

Najaf province stretches from the Saudi border to the Euphrates River. The city of Najaf has great religious significance to Muslims and is home to a shrine of particular importance to Shiites.