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Italy sacks diplomat in Iraq after visa-selling probe

ROME (Reuters) - Italy said on Tuesday it had dismissed the head of its visa office in Erbil, Iraq, following reports that visas were sold for thousands of euros, some to people rejected by other countries as security risks.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that an investigation of its consulate in the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region had found "irregularities". The information was sent to Italian magistrates for further investigation, it said.

Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Tuesday that Kurds and Syrian refugees had been forced to pay up to 10,000 euros ($10,600) for a visa instead of the standard 90-euro ($96) fee.

The paper said the Italian investigators had found at least 152 cases where exorbitant fees were demanded for visas.

It said some visas to enter Italy were issued to people who had been refused by other European countries on security grounds.

The foreign ministry statement gave no details but said "it is obvious that measures will be taken". It said the head of the visa section in Erbil, who was not named, had been "relieved of his duties".

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Andrew Roche)