Arrest warrant issued for sacked Nineveh governor

Nineveh justice officials have issued a warrant for the arrest of sacked provincial governor Nawfal Hamadi a week after a deadly ferry disaster in Mosul led to demands for his prosecution.

The warrant, issued by the Federal Nineveh Appellate Court Nineveh Investigations Court, calls for the arrest of Hamadi under Article 340 of Iraqi Penal Code 111 (1969) concerning integrity and the wasting of public funds.

“Any public official or agent who willfully inflicts damage on the property or interests of the authority for which he works or to which he is associated by virtue of his position or on another’s property that has been entrusted to him is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding  seven years or by detention,” the article states.

The warrant comes a day after Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said his government would “strike powerfully with the fist of justice” at those found responsible for causing the Newroz day disaster.

Although Hamadi has not been formally accused of responsibility for the disaster, the tragedy and ensuing outcry has accelerated action against him related to allegations of corruption.

On Thursday, March 21 – Kurdish news year’s day – an overloaded ferry capsized on the Tigris River, swollen by heavy rainfall. Almost 100 people were killed, most of them women and children. Many are still missing.

The incident sent shockwaves through Iraqi society and appalled international observers. Mosul residents have held days of mass protest demanding justice and the prosecution of provincial officials for negligence and corruption.

Hamadi is wildly unpopular in Mosul. Angry crowds prevented him from exiting his vehicle when he tried to visit the site of the ferry disaster on Friday. When he left, his SUV was attacked by people throwing stones and smashing windows.

He was sacked from his post on March 24 on “charges of negligence and corruption,” according to Viyan Sabri, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) bloc in the legislature, a day after Abdul-Mahdi called on the Iraqi parliament to force him out.

‘Fist of justice’

Speaking in Baghdad at his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Abdul-Mahdi blamed “greed and negligence” for causing the disaster and said his government would work to implement health and safety regulations.

“The ferry incident reveals seriously irresponsible conduct. At least those on the ferry [should have been] provided with lifejackets. This doesn’t cost anything,” Abdul-Mahdi told reporters on Tuesday night.

“What would it have cost the investors if he had given each individual on the ferry a lifejacket? We would have saved most of the victims,” the PM said.

“Yes, we will strike powerfully with the fist of justice, and we won’t allow for such things to be repeated,” he vowed.

A crisis cell was established to investigate the causes of the ferry disaster, including the commander of Nineveh Operations, the head of Nineveh Police, and the head of Nineveh University.

Abdul-Mahdi defended his decision on Tuesday evening, insisting it would contribute to the stability of the province.

“The crisis cell isn’t the complete solution, but the other solutions have more holes than this one. This solution didn’t allow for any security or political breakdowns,” the PM added.

The crisis cell is a “cover” to prevent any vacuums forming coming forth due to sacking the governor and his deputies, the PM added.

The PM also touched on the political situation inside Iraq’s second city of Mosul, which was seized by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in summer 2014 and retaken in a costly battle in summer 2017

Residents of Mosul say today’s sectarian rivalries are akin to the atmosphere in the city during the period before it fell to ISIS.

“The events in Mosul and the conditions in Nineveh aren’t simple,” Abdul-Mahdi said.

“Things are under control well, and from here I say held with an iron fist, but the strike will be with the hammer of justice.” Source

    |   Category: Rudaw