Saddam Hussein's nephew was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for funding insurgency, the Iraqi Government said.
Ayman Sabawi is the first family member of the former Iraqi leader being charged. He was captured by Iraqi security forces in Tikrit in May.
His father, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, is Saddam's half brother and used to serve as a presidential adviser before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Despite Sabawi's arrest, violence never ends. On Sunday, Iraqi police said they found 20 bodies in a river north of Baghdad.
Two car bombs killed eight people traveling yesterday on the road from Baghdad to the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are gathering for a religious festival.
Police said the bombs struck in the towns of Mahmoudiya and Latifiya, killing one civilian and seven police. Two police were also wounded.
US$1 billion missing
Also yesterday, Iraq's finance minister said in an interview that large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defence ministry, has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than US$1 billion going missing.
"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal," Finance Minister Ali Allawi told British newspaper The Independent in a report published yesterday. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history."
Corruption, both in the bidding for and the awarding of contracts, and in the administration of public offices, is one of the most frequent accusations made by Iraqis against their government and foreign firms operating in the country.
Some of the worst allegations of impropriety concern the purchasing of military equipment by the Defence Ministry under the previous government, including more than US$230 million spent on 28-year-old second-hand Polish helicopters.
"If you compare the amount that was allegedly stolen of about US$1 billion compared with the budget of the ministry of defence, it is nearly 100 percent of the ministry's (procurement) budget that has gone (missing)," Allawi said.
Reporter shot dead
Meanwhile, an Iraqi working as a reporter for the New York Times was found dead in the southern city of Basra yesterday after being kidnapped by masked men, family members and a doctor said.
Fakher Haider, who had worked for the Times for two and a years, was found with his hands bound and a single bullet wound to the head, said a doctor in the forensic department of Basra's hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity.
(China Daily September 20, 2005)