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Abuse of prisoners in Iraqi jails continues - Post

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 24 : US and Iraqi inspectors have discovered abuse of prisoners in detention centers run by Iraq's Interior Ministry that were visited as recently as February, the Washington Post reported today.

Citing US and Iraqi sources involved with the inspections, the Post said US troops did not respond by transferring all of the detainees to safety, as they did after finding 173 prisoners, some of whom showed signs of torture, in a secret Baghdad bunker in November.

Only a small number of the most severely abused detainees at one of six detention centers inspected since November were moved for medical treatment, while prisoners at two others were transferred to ease overcrowding, the Post said.

Leaving some of prisoners in centers where their abusive treatment was discovered has prompted inspectors to ask whether the military is following a pledge made by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace in November that US troops would try to stop any inhumane treatment they saw, the Post said.

''They tell us, 'If you leave us here, they will kill us,''' the Post quoted an anonymous Iraqi official as saying.

US military authorities confirmed that there were signs of severe abuse, including separated shoulders and strap marks, at two of the centers, the Post said.

''I was not in charge of the team who went to the sites. If so, I would have taken them out,'' the Post quoted a US official as having written in an e-mail.

But Maj Gen John D Gardner, the commander of US detention perations in Iraq, told the Post, ''I would strongly disagree with the statement that Americans are seeing cases of abuse and not doing anything.'' Pace's directive to US troops to stop any inhumane treatment they see followed the discovery Nov. 13 of 173 prisoners in a compound run by Iraq's Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which also runs most of the detention centers that have been inspected since then.


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