Mongolian ex-president seized over corruption

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Scores of police arrested Mongolia's former president, raiding a house in the capital at dawn Friday after he refused investigators' summons to answer questions about corruption charges, law enforcement officials said.

Anti-corruption investigators initially tried to arrest Enkhbayar Nambar on Thursday night. They stopped the former president's car but were foiled by his bodyguards who took him to a nearby compound, setting up a standoff that ended with the raid, police said.

Now an opposition politician, Enkhbayar was a formidable figure in the robust democracy of Mongolia, a resource-rich but largely poor country between China and Russia. Serving as prime minister and then president for most of a decade until losing office in 2009, he presided over a period of robust growth but also a widening wealth gap and, critics said, runaway corruption.

Enkhbayar was arrested for questioning in a serious corruption case, the head of the Independent Agency Against Corruption, E. Ambarbat, told reporters. Though he did not elaborate, the agency said the corruption involved the illegal privatization of a government-owned hotel.

"We have been investigating the corruption case involving Enkhbayar for a year. However, he never showed up for questioning. We had asked him often to come for questioning," Ambarbat said.

While he and other authorities said the arrest was legal, having been backed by a court order, Enkhbayar's supporters said it violated the former president's immunity and was politically motivated.

After narrowly losing re-election as president in 2009, Enkhbayar had formed a new opposition party and was contesting a parliament seat in June elections.