Criminal Procedure Case-study (1): Abdul-Falah al-Sudani

Posted on | June 9, 2009

[see also previous post]
Former Minister of Trade, Abdul-Falah al-Sudani, was arrested on 30 May 2009 following the issue of a warrant from the court in Samawa (in Al-Muthanna Governorate in the south of the country).
Alleged Crime: Sudani, a 62-year-old dual British Iraqi national, is being questioned about accusations of squandering public money and mismanaging his ministry by importing expired foodstuffs.
Investigation commences: According to Article 1 of the Criminal Procedure Code 23 of 1971, criminal proceedings are initiated by an oral or written complaint that an offence has taken place. Under Article 43, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and an Investigating Judge must be notified of the offence. Under Article 46, the investigating judge takes over the investigation. The investigating judge can authorise searches, conduct an examination of the crime scene, issue summonses, obtain an arrest warrant from a judge, and interview and take depositions from witnesses including any suspects. France 24 reported on 2 June 2009 that Mr Sudani was being questioned by an ‘anti-corruption judge’.
Arrest: Mr Sudani was arrested after his flight to the UAE was turned around mid-flight. Articles 92 to 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code deal with the arrest of suspects.
Detention ‘on remand’: Article 109 set limits to the period of detention possible before trial.
Bail: Under Article 111, the judge who issued the decision to detain a suspect may decide to release him on bail. Under Article 114, bail conditions can include submission of a sum of money and / or an undertaking from the accused. According to al-Aswat, Mr Sundani was initially refused bail on Tuesday 2 June 2009 but subsequently according to al-Aswat and nasdaq.com reports Mr Sundani was released on Sunday 7 June 2009 on bail of 50 million dinars ($43,000) and must not leave the country until the end of the investigation.
Information about rights: Under Article 123(b) and (c) a suspect must be informed of his right to remain silent and his right to legal representation before questioning.
Interviews by Investigative Judge: One of the tasks of the investigating judge is to interview suspects.
Coercion: Under Article 127 mistreatment, threats, injury, enticement, promises, psychological influence, or use of drugs or intoxicants are considered illegal methods of extracting a confession. Article 218 states “It is a condition of the acceptance of the confession that it is not given as a result of coercion”.
‘Charge’ / transfer for trial: Suspects are not charged with offences as in the UK or USA. If the investigating judge determines that there is sufficient evidence, under Article 130, he will transfer the accused for trial before the appropriate criminal court. The final charge is determined after transfer for trial under Article 187.
2010 Update: The former Minister of Trade was acquitted by a trial court in Baghdad, in one of the two corruption cases brought against him by the COI. The charges alleged that the former minister and his brother orchestrated a scheme to steal millions of dollars from Iraq’s Public Distribution System, which hands out basic foodstuffs to most Iraqi citizens. Immediately following the acquittal, the COI appealed the verdict, but on September 2, 2010, it was announced that Iraq’s Federal Appeals Court had upheld the lower court’s verdict dismissing the case. As of October 2, 2010, the COI’s other case against the former Minister of Trade remains pending.