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Ministers facing corruption charges lose immunity

July 7, 2011 2:51 P.M. (Updated: July 8, 2011 4:43 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority anti-corruption chief announced Thursday that the legal immunity of several ministers has been removed to make way for corruption charges.

Head of the anti-corruption commission Rafiq An-Natsheh told state radio broadcaster Voice of Palestine that President Mahmoud Abbas supported the move in order to end corruption in the government.

A number of ministers are accused of presiding over financial and administrative mismanagement, unfair hiring policies, and pilfering ministerial budgets for their own use, An-Natsheh said.

Second deputy to the parliamentary chief Hasan Kresheh said some former ministers facing corruption charges were now members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and would have to go before a court to remove their parliamentary privilege of immunity from prosecution.

Kresheh called for the names of the officials accused of corruption to be disclosed following investigations, and urged judges to punish corruption whatever the position of the accused.

The names and number of officials being investigated by the commission are being kept under wraps, but the unit said in January it was investigating 80 cases of corruption and had already recovered $5 million from former officials.

An-Natsheh had earlier issued calls for immunity to be removed and assets to be seized from ministers.

The Palestinian anti-corruption law was ratified President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2010, and billed as a major step toward transparency following a series of corruption scandals and the dismissal of his chief of staff earlier in the year.
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