DAMASCUS, Syria -- A former Syrian prime minister shot himself to death Sunday, the Interior Ministry said, months after he was forced out of office amid charges of corruption.
Mahmoud el-Zoubi, 62, shot himself in the head at his home in Dumer outside Damascus, said a statement from the Interior Ministry carried by the official Syrian Arab News Agency.It said el-Zoubi committed suicide after learning that the Damascus police chief had come to his house to serve a judicial notice to appear before an investigating judge to answer allegations of corruption and other violations "that caused great harm to the national economy."
El-Zoubi died on the way to the Al-Muwasah government hospital in Damascus, said hospital officials.
None of his family accompanied him to the hospital, they said.
El-Zoubi was prime minister from Nov. 1, 1987, until March 7, when he resigned along with his Cabinet amid charges of mismanagement and corruption.
He was sacked from the ruling Baath Party on May 10 after President Hafez Assad decided to have him investigated for corruption, and for harming the national economy during his time in office.
El-Zoubi's dismissal came at a time when Assad's son Bashar is leading a campaign against corruption in Syria as his father presses ahead with promised social and economic reforms.
Media are under tight control in Syria, and it is highly unusual for corruption charges involving top officials to be publicized.
Until he became prime minister, el-Zoubi was parliament speaker from November 1981.
A native of Kherbit Gazaleh village, 75 miles south of Damascus near the Jordanian border, he was considered close to Assad until his downfall. He was replaced as prime minister by Mohammed Mustafa Miro, who was given the task of reviving and modernizing Syria's economy.
On Sunday, former Transport Minister Mufeed Abdul Karim was taken into custody pending investigation into charges of "corruption and dishonesty," SANA said. It did not elaborate. Karim was a member of El-Zoubi's Cabinet from 1992.
El-Zoubi is survived by two sons and a daughter. The sons, both who work outside of government, have also been accused of corruption.