Four members of the dissolved Kirkuk provincial council have been sentenced to each 15 years in prison by the Kirkuk Criminal Court.
The four members, who were sentenced on Thursday, June 2, have been living in Erbil since the events of October 16, 2017 when the Iraqi security forces ISF took over the disputed territories and ousted the Kurdish forces.
Those members have fled Kirkuk to Erbil as the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP asked its supporters to leave Kirkuk following September 2017 referendum for independence. They have boycotted sessions of the Kirkuk provincial council before the dissolution of the provincial councils at the end of 2019 by the Iraqi parliament.
The court's decision, a copy of which obtained by KirkukNow, did not mention the crimes, but stressed that the decision was issued under Article 316 of the Iraqi Penal Code and several other articles of the same law.
According to Article 316, any public servant or any person appointed to public service who abuses his position and illegally seize money or property belonging to another person or the state or institutions faces imprisonment.
The four members are Parwin Mohammed, a Kurdish, Irfan Kirkukli, Turkmen, Riad Mohammed, Arab, and Edward Awrahan Adisho, Christian. All the four were under the Kirkuk Brotherhood list, which was led by the two key Kurdish parties KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK and was a mixture of members of Kirkuk's ethnic groups.
Irfan Kirkukli, who left Kirkuk for Erbil after the return of Iraqi forces and did not attend any meeting of the Kirkuk provincial council since 2017 until its dissolution, told Kirkuk Now, “The court verdict is politically motivated to force us to return to Kirkuk which is a dream for us to return to a city where there are security and political violations.”
The Kurdish political parties were holding the senior admin and security positions of Kirkuk such as governor, head and deputy of the provincial council up to 2017 when the Iraqi government declared the defeat of the Islamic State ISIS and took over control in most of the disputed territories.
Back in October 2021 parliamentary elections, Kurds won 6 out of the 12 parliamentary seats of Kirkuk, four to Arabs, only two for the Turkmens and one quota seat for the Christians.
Currently, Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, are under Kirkuk joint operations’ command, an umbrella for the security forces running the security of Kirkuk province.
"I have sent several memoranda to Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi regarding the confiscation of my house in Kirkuk and my son's house. They also confiscated my belongings, even though they knew it belongs to us," Kirkukli complained.
The court ruled out that the four members were fugitives and sentenced them in absentia.
"We will not return to Kirkuk, which is witnessing security and political violations," Kirkukli defiantly said.
The decision comes days after that Kirkuk criminal court sentenced former speaker of dissolved Kirkuk provincial council Rebwar Talabani to six years in prison.
All the former members of the Kirkuk provincial council, affiliated to the KDP, including the five members sentenced this month, live in Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI and have been receiving monthly salaries until the council was dissolved end of 2019.
Intense negotiations among the political groups last October General Elections have failed to form a majority parliamentary coalition to name a new prime minister to succeed Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
The political crisis led to deadlock and direct and indirect confrontations between the groups divided between a group led by Shiite hardliner cleric Muqtada al-Asdr and pro-Iran Coordination framework.
The oil rich-city of Kirkuk is home to about 1.7 million Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, Kirkuk is the center of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.