Iraqi with ties to Rezko escapes Baghdad jail
Former Iraqi electricity minister Aiham Alsammarae, who has a home in west suburban Oak Brook, has escaped from a Baghdad police station, according to an e-mail he sent to the Chicago Sun-Times and others Tuesday.
“Hi, I am OK and out of their reach,” Alsammarae wrote in the e-mail, which came in response to an e-mail the newspaper sent him several days ago.
Alsammarae, 55, went on to blast Iraq’s Public Integrity Commission for keeping him incarcerated on corruption charges he maintains are false. He did not identify where he was staying.
“I said it before and I say it again: There is nothing (no case pending in the court [that] required me to stay one day in the jail. . . . They make me wait for another 8 days . . . planning for more lies until they get the chance to kill me!!!” wrote Alsammarae, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen who left his Downers Grove engineering firm in 2003 to join Iraq’s transitional government.
“So, this is why I decide to hit the road and safe [sic] my life for the sake of my family and Iraq.”
Alsammarae did not answer the Sun-Times’ questions about an Iraqi power-plant contract that is of interest to U.S. authorities in Chicago.
That deal, which no longer is in effect, included recently indicted Wilmette businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich. It happened under Alsammarae’s watch as Iraq’s electricity chief.
Federal authorities here want to learn more about the deal because Rezko and Alsammarae know each other, and each has been accused of corruption, a source familiar with the investigation told the Sun-Times earlier this month. Alsammarae and Rezko attended the Illinois Institute of Technology together in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
$2 billion missing
A U.S. Embassy spokesman declined to go into detail about Alsammarae’s escape, telling the Associated Press “there are conflicting reports surrounding his disappearance.”
Alsammarae remained at large Tuesday night, according to the AP. Private guards in SUVs helped Alsammarae walk out of a police station just outside the heavily fortified Green Zone on Sunday, the wire service reported.
Ali al- Shabout, a spokesman for the Iraqi Public Integrity Commission, said officers at the Karadat Mariam police station allowed uniformed men who appeared to be security guards into the building. The officers realized later that Alsammarae had left with the agents.
‘‘They didn’t discover that until they went into his room later and found he was missing,’’ al- Shabout said.
Alsammarae was scheduled to appear in court Monday to face trial on 12 corruption counts. The charges stem from an estimated $2 billion in missing funds for contracts to rebuild Iraq’s electrical infrastructure, the AP reported.
An earlier corruption conviction against Alsammarae recently had been overturned.
Contributing: Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney
Aiham Alsammarae, who owns a home in Oak Brook, has escaped from a Baghdad police station, according to an e-mail exchange with the Sun-Times.
Antoin ‘‘Tony’’ Rezko