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Iraq Interior Minister Okayed Torture: Ex-General

Islamonline.net

BAGHDAD, January 16, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) ľ Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh and senior officials at his ministry have condoned torture and abuses of detainees, a ministry's whistle-blower who was in charge of the special forces unit said in new statements.

Muntazar Al-Samarrai, who fled Iraq for Jordan last year, said an interior ministry squad has been set up at Solagh's orders, which intimidated Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, and arrested scores without court warrants, Reuters reported Sunday, January 15.

"The squad was receiving orders from Solagh directly and were interrogating people without court approval," Samarrai, a Sunni Arab with a long career in the military, told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.

He noted that the random arrests and crackdowns were also carried out under the watchful eyes of the ministry's senior officials.

Samarrai said that the squad's main headquarter was in the Baghdad-based bunker of Al-Gardiyah, where some 170 prisoners were found malnourished and showed signs of torture.

Sunni leaders have accused the Shiite-dominated interior ministry of taking a leading role in severe abuses, including the targeting of Sunnis by "death squads."

They called in November for an international investigation into the torture of Sunni detainees and for the dismissal of Solagh.

The US Ambassador to Iraq has called for replacing Solagh.

"You can't have someone who is regarded as sectarian as the minister of interior," Zalmay Khalilzad said in December.

Badr Brigades

The former Iraqi general reiterated earlier press statements that Solagh had appointed thousands of Badr Brigades, the disarmed militia of the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), in his ministry.

He said anew the interior ministry chiefs were all members of SCIRI or the Shiite Dawa party and that the prisoners were "all Sunnis."

The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), the larges religious Sunni body in Iraq, had accused the Badr Brigades of abducting and assassinating Sunni scholars.

Secular Shiite politician and former premier Iyad Allawi had accused incumbent Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari of allowing powerful militias to hold sway, posing a threat to communal harmony in the country.

He further accused the government of adopting torture as a policy on sectarian grounds, in what he said was even worse than that in Saddam's time.

Broken Promises

Samarrai further blasted the interior ministry and government for failing to honor a promise to investigate abuses in Iraqi jails.

"We want a serious probe into the torture and its conclusions should be made public," said the father of four, who left Iraq for Jordan in July after two attempts on his life.

He said Iraqi forces had randomly arrested people in the Baghdad suburbs.

"The detainees were horrifically abused and some of them even died of torture," he said.

He continued: "Some of the detainees were thrown in a morgue after they had been tortured by electric shocks, burnt with cigarettes and even mutilated," he fumed.

Samarrai said that 52 blind-folded people were found killed in Baghdad's neighborhoods of Al-Iskan and Al-Huriya.

"I have no doubt that countless others have been killed at the hands of Solagh's men," he added.


:: Article nr. 19683 sent on 17-jan-2006 00:27 ECT

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Link: www.islam-online.net/English/News/2006-01/16/article04.shtml



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