BAGHDAD — Evidence that led to candidates being barred from Iraq's March 7 election for suspected links to Saddam Hussein will be released in the coming days, the head of the committee that disqualified them told AFP on Saturday.
Ali al-Lami said the evidence was being organised by the Justice and Accountability Committee (JAC) so that it could be presented to the media before the parliamentary election takes place next Sunday.
"We have already decided to release these documents this week," he said in an interview in Baghdad. "The most important thing is to release the information before the election."
Asked to provide a specific day when the documents would be made public, Lami declined to give details.
"Announcing the release of these documents needs a press conference," he said.
"The press conference requires some preparation. Showing these documents to the media also needs some preparation to collect all the documents, to print them, etc."
Asked why preparations were taking time, Lami replied: "Why do you want everything to go so fast? We haven't completed our preparations, we need time. We are also having some problems with the candidate Saleh al-Mutlak."
Mutlak, head of leading Sunni Arab grouping the National Dialogue Front, was the most high-profile candidate barred from the election for alleged ties to Saddam's now outlawed Baath Party.
Mutlak insists that he was kicked out of the Baath party in 1977, two years before Saddam became president, because he opposed its policies.
Lami said the JAC had evidence that Mutlak had financially supported armed groups that had killed Iraqis, in the form of confessions from detainees and arrested suspects, but he did not say when this was alleged to have occurred.
"We have sent all this evidence to the prosecutor and it will be sent to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq," he said.
"The law will take its course. Until now, we don't know if we are able to announce this information and documents or not, because we are waiting for the opinion of the court.
"Maybe the detainees' confessions cannot be released because it will affect the security situation."
He said that the JAC would still publish all of the other available evidence against candidates. According to Lami, a total of 511 candidates were initially barred, but 28 were eventually reinstated.
The election, the second parliamentary ballot since Saddam was toppled, is seen as a test of reconciliation between the Sunni Arab minority that dominated the now executed dictator's regime and the Shiite majority that leads the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Around 19 million people have the right to vote, including 1.4 million citizens living in 16 countries abroad, according to organisers.
A total of 6,500 candidates will contest the election which will feature 10,000 polling stations and 54,000 ballot boxes, according to Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).
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