Three cops held af­ter bal­lot fire in Iraq

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

IRAQ on Mon­day ar­rested three po­lice of­fi­cers and an elec­toral com­mis­sion em­ployee af­ter a fire that rav­aged a ware­house where votes from May’s leg­isla­tive elec­tion were stored, author­i­ties said.

The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in AlRus­safa, a district of eastern Bagh­dad, “ar­rested four peo­ple sus­pected of in­volve­ment in the ar­son at­tack on the elec­toral com­mis­sion”, Supreme Ju­di­cial Coun­cil spokesman Ab­del Sat­tar Bayraq­dar said in a state­ment.

“Three of them are po­lice of­fi­cers and the other is an em­ployee of the elec­toral com­mis­sion,” he added.

The news of the ar­rests came af­ter Iraqi In­te­rior Min­is­ter Qassem al-Araji said there was “no doubt that [the fire] was a de­lib­er­ate act”.

The blaze oc­curred on Sun­day ahead of a vote re­count prompted by al­le­ga­tions of fraud dur­ing the elec­tion that saw a sur­prise vic­tory for a pop­ulist cleric and Iraqi vot­ers dump­ing the old guard.

Fire­fight­ers brought it un­der con­trol sev­eral hours af­ter it broke out at the ware­house in Al-Rus­safa.

Around 60 per­cent of the two mil­lion vot­ers in Bagh­dad cast their bal­lots in the May 12 elec­tion in the district.

“Elec­tion ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing maybe bal­lot boxes, were burned but most of the bal­lot boxes were stored in an­other build­ing and have been pre­served,” In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Gen­eral Saad Maan said on Sun­day.

The fire erupted as nine judges were ap­pointed to su­per­vise a man­ual vote re­count or­dered by Iraq’s out­go­ing par­lia­ment.

The leg­is­la­ture on Wed­nes­day also sacked the nine-mem­ber in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion that over­saw the polls.

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