The son of the governor of the Iraqi region of Najaf was arrested on drug-related charges, sparking uproar among the people due to the province’s religious significance.
Jawad Louay al-Yasseri and two others were arrested for drug dealing and they are being held in prison in southwestern Baghdad.
Security forces seized in their possession 5.6 kilograms of cannabis, 7,000 narcotic pills and a pistol, said Iraqi police sources.
If convicted, they may face sentences as severe as the death penalty or life in prison.
Najaf is home to the shrine of Imam Ali and several senior Shi’ite figures live in the province.
The arrest of the three suspects sheds light on the growing drug trade in Iraq and the consequent rise in the number of abusers over the past few years.
This prompted the premiership to issue in early 2017 a decree to form a committee of concerned university professors to assess the drug trade in the country.
Jawad’s father, Louay, issued on Sunday a statement stressing that since assuming his duties as Najaf governor, he has been keen on imposing the rule of law on all people, regardless of their standing or position.
“This includes my family, which has prestigious and respected roots,” he added.
“We are all citizens governed by the law,” he declared.
He however criticized the media for highlighting his son’s role in the case, while failing to spotlight his accomplices, saying that these actions were politically motivated given that Iraq is holding elections in May.