Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Bloodshed in Baghdad as Sweden investigates Iraq minister for 'crimes against humanity'

Estimated 350 people believed to have been killed in largest demonstrations since fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003

Nine people were killed and dozens wounded in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Iraq on Monday as prosecutors in Sweden said they were investigating an Iraqi minister for “crimes against humanity”.

Swedish media identified the subject of the inquiry as Defence Minister Najah Al Shammari, but the Swedish Prosecution Authority did not name anyone.

Media reports suggested the inquiry related to the shooting dead of hundreds of protesters.

The prosecutors said it had received complaints about "an Iraqi minister suspected of crimes against humanity".

It said the investigation was "in a very early stage".

He was identified as Mr Al Shammari, who is also a Swedish citizen but goes by a different name there.

A Swedish-Iraqi lawyer told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that he had reported Mr Al Shammari to police in October for his role in the shooting of hundreds of protesters in weeks of unrest.

The minister is also under investigation for benefits fraud, claiming housing and child benefits from Sweden despite living in Iraq, online news site Nyheter Idag reported.

Mr Al Shammari arrived in Sweden in 2009 and was granted permanent residency in 2011 before getting his citizenship in 2015, Expressen reported.

Since October 1, Iraq's capital and south have been swept by mass rallies protesting against corruption, a lack of jobs and poor services.

Those demonstrations have escalated into calls for a complete overhaul of the ruling elite.

Three hundred and fifty protesters have been killed and thousands wounded in clashes with the security forces, AFP estimated.

The authorities in Iraq no longer update their figures.

On Sunday, 13 anti-government protesters died across the country in one of the worst days of violence since the start of the protests.

Updated: November 26, 2019 12:44 PM

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