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Iraq orders arrest of ex-governor after deadly ferry sinking

FILE PHOTO: A relative of victims of a ferry that sank in the Tigris river, reacts outside the morgue in Mosul, Iraq March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ari Jalal -/File Photo

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq has issued a warrant for the arrest of the former governor of Nineveh on corruption charges after at least 90 people were killed in a ferry accident in the provincial capital Mosul, two court officials said on Wednesday.

The warrant also included the arrest of some local officials after a court investigation concluded they colluded with the former governor in misusing their powers and committed financial violations, a Mosul court judge said.

A member of parliament has tweeted a copy of the arrest warrant.

Responding to a formal request by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s parliament voted on Sunday to sack Governor Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan after the overloaded ferry capsized in the Tigris river last week.

Abdul Mahdi’s letter to parliament accused Sultan of negligence, dereliction of duty, and said there was evidence he was misusing public funds and abusing power.

The Nineveh investigation court sent an official request to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to hand over Sultan who has fled to the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, the judge said.

Angry protesters who took to the streets in Mosul after the ferry sinking blamed negligence by the local government for the accident. The boat was loaded to five times its capacity, according to a local official.

The ferry was carrying families heading to an outing on an island in the Tigris when it sank. Many of the women and children on board could not swim.

Islamic State militants were driven from Mosul nearly two years ago, but relief has given way to impatience over alleged corruption as reconstruction of the destroyed city has stalled.

Reporting by Salih Elias; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed, Editing by William Maclean