Chalabi faces extradition calls

A prominent Iraqi politician is facing calls for his extradition to Jordan.

    Chalabi (r) has been accused of being too close to the US

    Jordanian deputies are to lobby their government to extradite Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi on embezzlement charges.

    Mahmud Kharabsheh, a leading parliamentarian, said on Sunday he was finding wide support

     to demand the government should 

    take legal steps to seek Chalabi's extradition from Iraq.

    Chalabi was 

    convicted in Jordan of embezzling millions from a bank in the

    late 1980s.

    Extradition

    "We will demand the extradition of the criminal (Chalabi)

    and that he is handed over to stand trial for embezzlement of

    public funds.

    "We are asking for our embezzled funds and conviction of

    those who have hurt our economy," Kharabsheh said.

    He added: "We are defending our economy

    and country and our right to funds that Chalabi squandered

    either by taking it for himself or his partners." 

    Kharabsheh is voicing widespread feeling in Amman against

    Chalabi, a controversial politician, with close ties to

    Washington.

    Hard labour

    "We are asking for our embezzled funds and conviction of

    those who have hurt our economy"

    Mahmud Kharabsheh,
    Jordanian MP

    Last month Chalabi was one of nine Iraqi Governing Council

    members, chosen to serve for a month as president of the US-appointed

    body.

    A Jordanian court tried Chalabi in absentia in 1992 and

    convicted him of fraud and embezzlement, sentencing him to 22

    years' hard labour.

    Authorities said they unravelled a web of

    irregularities at Chalabi's Bank of Petra,

    involving the

    siphoning of millions of dollars of depositors' money to hi

    s offshore accounts.

    The 1989 collapse of the Bank of Petra shook the country's

    political and financial system, forcing authorities to spend in

    excess of $400 million to bail out depositors.

    Economic crisis 

    Chalabi, once among Jordan's most influential men, says he

    was made a scapegoat for years of mismanagement and corruption

    that

    precipitated an economic and political crisis in 1989.

    He accused Jordanian officials of framing him under pressure

    from Saddam Hussein whose government's

    financial dealings built fortunes for many Jordanians.

    The authorities have refrained from seeking Chalabi's

    extradition for fear of wider legal and political ramifications.

    SOURCE: AFP


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