ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq has arrested four suspects for their involvement in a fire at a warehouse in Baghdad storing ballot boxes from the May 12 parliamentary elections, a spokesperson for the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq announced on Monday.
According to Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesperson for the Judicial Council, three of the suspects are members of the police and one of them an employee from the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).
“The Rusafa Court of Inquiry decided to arrest four accused of the crime of burning the Electoral Commission warehouse in the al-Rufasa district of Baghdad,” Birqdar said in a statement.
“On this occasion, the Supreme Judicial Council reiterates its warning to anyone who begs himself to manipulate documents related to the elections,” the spokesperson added, vowing to “take the maximum punishment against them.”
A fire broke out on Sunday at a warehouse in the al-Rusafa district of the Iraqi capital which stores ballots from the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Following the incident, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a stern statement, promising to pursue the “terrorist gangs” that try to tamper with the security situation of the country and the elections.
He also directed all governorates’ operations commands to tighten security measures and increase personnel at electoral commission warehouses across the country.
In response to the blaze, many Iraqi officials have called for a redo of elections.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri said the incident was “a planned crime aimed at hiding cases of manipulation and falsification of votes and deceiving the Iraqi people and changing their will and choice.” He said a redo of the polls was necessary.
Iraqi Vice-President Ayad Allawi, meanwhile, called for a referendum to decide on whether to approve the results of the May 12 elections or redo the polls.
Before the blaze at the Rusafa warehouse, the Iraqi Parliament had decided to freeze the work of the IHEC, assigning nine judges to run the commission to facilitate a manual recount of votes across Iraq.