Kirkuk court acquitted six member of suspended provincial council

Kirkuk, September 23, 2019: Kirkuk provincial council meeting before being suspended by the Iraqi parliament. KirkukNow

By Karwan Salihi in Kirkuk

The Kirkuk Criminal Court has acquitted six members of the suspended Kirkuk provincial council of not returning their vehicles to the government.

The court ruled on Wednesday in favor of Galawezh Jabari, Suitlin Estephan, Khalil Ibrahim, Mohammed Khizir, Ma'an Mohammed and Jamal Bapir, who were sued by the prosecutor general for not returning the council's vehicles.

Mohammed Khizir, a member of the suspended Kirkuk provincial council, told KirkukNow, “Although we still had the council vehicles after the dissolution, we returned them to the government last June in the presence of the council's legal director Kirkuk province."

"But the problem was that the legal director of the council had not updated the Kirkuk office of the Integrity Commission about handing over the vehicles, so we were summoned to court," he said.

In June 2021, the Integrity Commission filed a complaint against the six members for failing to return their vehicles.

Under pressure from October 2019 protesters, the Iraqi parliament dissolved all Iraqi provincial councils (except the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI) late 2019, which means these members used the council's vehicles for a eighteen months.

Iraq's Supreme Federal Court ruled out last June the suspension of the powers of the provincial councils is constitutional and it does not refer to dissolvement of those council as domestic constitutional commissions.

The federal court said in a statement on June 2nd, 2021 about the "suspension and revocation" of Iraqi provincial councils, including those in the districts and sub-districts, the decisions by Iraqi parliament goes along the Iraqi constitution.

The Iraqi parliament has amended law No. 12 of 2018 regarding provincial council elections on November 26th, 2019, and added an article about suspension of the councils.

The problem was that the legal director of the council had not updated to the Kirkuk office of the Integrity Commission about handing over the vehicles

According to Article 340 of the Iraqi Penal Code, any employee or anyone assigned to the public service who deliberately damages the property and interests of the place where he works is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years.

"The first hearing was adjourned because one of the members was ill, but we were acquitted in the June 15 hearing," Khizir said.

On June 2, the Kirkuk Criminal Court sentenced four members of the council to 15 years in prison under Article 316 of the Iraqi Penal Code, which states that "any civil servant or any person appointed to public service takes advantage of his position illegally, seizure of money or property that belongs to another person or the state or institutions is punishable by imprisonment.”

On May 17, the same court sentenced former Kirkuk provincial council speaker Rebwar Talabani to six years in prison under Article 340 of the Iraqi Penal Code.

The Kurdish political parties were holding the senior admin and security positions of Kirkuk such as governor, head and deputy of the provincial council up to 2017 when the Iraqi government declared the defeat of the Islamic State ISIS and took over control in most of the disputed territories.

Back in October 2021 parliamentary elections, Kurds won 6 out of the 12 parliamentary seats of Kirkuk, four to Arabs, only two for the Turkmens and one quota seat for the Christians.

Currently, the Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, are under Kirkuk joint operations’ command, an umbrella for the security forces running the security of Kirkuk province. 

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