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SYRIA - May 22 - Ex-Premier Commits Suicide.

Political sources say former PM Mahmoud El Zoubi, who committed suicide after being accused of corruption, was buried at his birthplace in southern Syria. (On May 21, El Zoubi, 65, shot himself after receiving a police summons.) The sources say the funeral at Kirbit Ghazali, about 100 km south of Damascus, was a simple ceremony limited to his close family members and some of his hometown people. Political sources say El Zoubi's sons, Miflih and Hammam - also accused of taking advantage of their father's position to amass considerable wealth - were under protective arrest. One source says: "They are mainly being protected against doing any harm to themselves". (The investigation of El Zoubi was part of a campaign against corruption that is expected to include several ministers and officials.) On May 21, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry said that former Transport Minister Mufeed Abdul Karim was also arrested on that day. An Interior Ministry official said that as soon as El Zoubi was informed by the commander of the Damascus police about the summons, he shot himself.

(El Zoubi served as PM from 1987 until his resignation in March 2000. He was sacked from the ruling Baath party's national command 2 weeks ago after an initial party investigation found that he had damaged the national economy.)

During last week, the Finance Ministry froze the assets of El Zoubi, his wife and children pending the outcome of the investigations. His sacking coincided with preparations for the Baath party's ninth general conference, the first in 15 years, which is due to elect a new regional command. (The 5-day conference opening on June 17 is to discuss various economic, political and organisational reports.) Political sources say that Pres. Assad's son Bashar, who is leading the anti-corruption campaign, was expected to be elected to a new 20-member regional command.
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Title Annotation:Mahmoud El Zoubi
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:May 27, 2000
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