BAGHDAD, Iraq – Authorities will arrest prominent politician Ahmad Chalabi after the current Islamic religious holiday for allegedly defaming the Defense Ministry, the defense minister said Friday.
Legal proceedings against Chalabi are to begin after the Eid al-Adha holiday ends Sunday, Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said.
Shaalan’s statement followed allegations by Chalabi that the defense minister shifted $500 million from the ministry. That has led to charges and countercharges by the two Shiite politicians, who are running for parliament on separate tickets in the Jan. 30 national elections.
“We will arrest him and turn him over to the Interpol,” Shaalan told Al-Jazeera television. “We will arrest him based on facts. He wanted to tarnish the image of the Defense Ministry. … He wanted to tarnish the reputation of the defense minister because he is frank and clear. One of those who want to commit crimes against the Iraqi people is Ahmad Chalabi.”
Chalabi could not be reached for comment.
Last year, a judge issued a warrant for Chalabi’s arrest for allegedly counterfeiting money but the charges were dropped.
Al-Jazeera quoted Shaalan as saying Chalabi would be turned over to Interpol because of his 1992 conviction in absentia by a Jordanian court for embezzling funds from a Jordanian bank, which collapsed in 1989.
Chalabi, who founded the bank, has denied any wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated because of his opposition to ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.