Mosul mayor Resignation accepted following corruption charges

Zuhair Muhsin al-Araji, mayor of Mosul District, in the middle. Personal Facebook account of al-Araji.

By Ammar Aziz in Nineveh

The governor of Nineveh province approved the resignation of the mayor of Mosul, and he "will not return to work again," said Deputy Governor of Nineveh, following allegations of bribes.

On December 22, 2021, the investigative court specialized in integrity issues has sent out an arrest warrant against the mayor of Mosul, Zuhair al-Araji, on charges related to corruption and receiving bribes.

A statement by the Integrity Commission declared "the order issued against the mayor of Mosul district is based on investigations into the case of suspicions that he had received a bribe of $240,000 and a vehicle in return for condoning the housing units built by unions on lands owned by the state."

"I cannot continue in this position, from today I will submit my resignation to the Governor of Nineveh and I hope that he will accept it, and this is a personal decision," Al-Araji said in a press conference held on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Mosul.

"I stood against the land mafias and groups that were working for their personal interests, despite the great pressures and threats," he added. "The city of Mosul is exposed to another type of terrorism, represented by the parties that do not want the good of this city."

“Land mafias, who are residents of this city, are stronger than the authority of the state,” al-Araji concluded.

The order to probe the mayor of Mosul came under Article 307 of the Iraqi Penal Code, regarding the penalty for bribery, which states that “every employee or person charged with a public service request or accepts for himself or for others a gift, benefit, advantage, or promise of something to perform an act of his job or to refrain from or violate the duties of the position, shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than what was demanded, given or promised.

The deputy governor of Nineveh, Ali Omar Kaabo, said, "The mayor of Mosul submitted his resignation to the governor, who in turn approved it, so he will not serve again."

Kaabo said, "It is not yet clear what are the reasons for the resignation, but it seems to be related to the lawsuits that were registered against him in the past."

A copy of the arrest warrant issued against the mayor of Mosul District

The arrest warrant was issued based on a lawsuit filed against Al-Araji in the Integrity Commission, which was based on confessions made by one of the detainees.

On this issue, the other deputy governor of Nineveh, Refaat Smou, said in a previous statement to KirkukNow that the arrested person, who was referred by the Integrity Commission to the court, accused the mayor of taking a bribe in exchange for conducting some transactions in government departments.

Zuhair Al-Araji posted a clarification on his Facebook page last December expressing his readiness to appear in court to present the facts to public opinion, he said.

In his clarification, Al-Araji spoke of his "accomplishments" and said, "I was personally subjected to 24 assassination attempts, and I gave martyrs from among the best of our sons from among my bodyguards and cousins, in order to serve the people.”

Al-Araji said in the press conference held on Tuesday, February 8, "There are no lawsuits or complaints against me regarding the land issue, but just allegations by arrested people that I myself referred to the judiciary."

The mayor of Mosul was released on bail at the beginning of this year by the court's decision, and he returned to carrying out his duties.

Al-Araji pointed out at the press conference that earlier he had submitted his resignation twice before, "but it was not accepted."

Early January, Nineveh court has issued orders to interrogate three local officials for cases of corruption and intimidation, Iraqi integrity commission said in a statement on Sunday.

The court has ordered to summon deputy governor, mayor of Mosul and the arrest of a senior police officer in three separate cases.

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