Middle East

Iraq frees Saddam-era trade minister: official

Baghdad: A former trade minister for now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein, arrested by US forces nearly nine years ago, was released by Iraqi authorities on Sunday, a deputy minister and a lawyer said.

"Iraqi authorities released Mohammed Mahdi al-Salih because there were no charges left against him," deputy justice minister Busho Ibrahim told AFP.

Ibrahim said Salih had been found innocent of charges against him last year, but offered no explanation as to why it took several months for him to be released. He did not give details as to what charges had been levelled against Salih.

"Iraqi authorities released ex-trade minister Mohammed Mahdi al-Salih today," Badie Aref, lawyer for multiple Saddam-era officials, told AFP.

"He has already left Iraq," Aref said, but declined to specify where he had gone.

Salih was number 35 on the US forces' most wanted list in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam, and was identified as the six of hearts on the American "deck of cards" which catalogued top Saddam officials.

He was originally taken into custody on April 23, 2003.





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