Iraq reopens Russian arms deal probe

Dubai, May 22 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Iraq’s central criminal court has resumed an investigation into officials suspected of corruption in a $4.2 billion deal to purchase Russian weapons.

According to the head of the Iraqi parliament’s integrity committee, Bahaa al-Araji, the investigation will go ahead.

“The witnesses and suspects will give evidence, and Defence Ministry experts will evaluate the possible damage,” he said.

“The deal remains in force, but is not being implemented yet,” he added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki signed an arms package purchase agreement with Russia worth $4.2 billion during a visit to Moscow in October 2012.

Under the deal, Moscow was to supply 30 Mil Mi-28NE night/all-weather capable attack helicopters, and 50 Pantsyr-S1 gun-missile short-range air defence systems.

The deal was suspended a few weeks later over of suspicions of corruption. The Iraqi parliament initiated an investigation into several officials suspected of taking kickbacks.

However, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in March 2013 that Iraq and Russia had initialed a revised deal and deliveries under the contract would start by the summer.

The corruption investigation was closed shortly after.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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