Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has taken punitive measures against all those involved in the delay of a civilian plane departure to Beirut last week. The individuals responsible for the flight's delay include an official in the Transport Ministry and a relative of its Minister Nasser al-Shibli.
Kadhimi’s office issued Tuesday a strongly worded statement against “a series of errors, behaviors and failures” in the ministry’s performance.
The statement also slammed Shibli for appointing Ali Mohsen Hashem as director of the Iraqi Airways, contrary to the Premier’s instructions not to make any changes to senior positions without his approval.
Kadhimi also ordered canceling Hashem’s appointment, returning him to his previous position and referring him to justice on suspicion of delaying the trip.
The statement also highlighted the illegal and administratively unjustifiable long delay in the flight heading to Beirut by Ahmed Assem Hussein Bandar, who is Shibli’s relative.
Preliminary investigations indicated Bandar’s abuse of his powers, it added.
This was not the first time that a close relative of a prominent official has obstructed an Iraqi Airways flight or committed a violation of flight standards.
In March 2014, son of the former Transport Minister, Hadi al-Ameri, forced a Baghdad-bound Middle East Airlines plane to turn around 20 minutes after leaving Beirut because he missed the flight.
However, it is the first time that the government takes deterrent measures against violators, which has been welcomed by the public.
MP of State of Law Coalition Alia Nassif hailed the measures taken by Kadhimi against Shibli’s violations and breaches.
She expressed hope that ministers will be held accountable for their involvement in any “administrative or financial violations.”
“Delaying the plane departure for a minister’s relative is the worst form of administrative corruption and is considered an insult to Iraqi citizens,” she stressed.
Shibli, for his part, affirmed that his nephew had nothing to do with the trip delay, noting that he has been subject to media campaign.