Abu Ghraib won't Be Used After US Quits

Iraq yesterday said it would turn Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison into a warehouse after the US military abandons the building in the next few months.

Abu Ghraib won't Be Used After US Quits

In a surprise announcement, the US military said it planned to end its operations at the prison that was a torture centre under Saddam Hussein and became a symbol of shame for America's occupation of Iraq. US officials had suggested Iraqi authorities might continue to use it as a jail.

But Iraqi Justice Minister Abd Al Hussein Shandel said: "There will be no detainees in Abu Ghraib. It will just be used as a storage facility for the justice ministry. The US military said 4,500 inmates held at Abu Ghraib on suspicion of insurgent activity would be transferred elsewhere once a new site at the nearby airport was completed.

International and Iraqi human rights groups called on US officials to give them access to the new facility to see under what conditions prisoners were being held. Abu Ghraib had until recently also held 2,400 regular criminals under the control of the justice ministry. But Shandel said these had already been transferred to other sites.

Abu Ghraib gained global notoriety in 2004 when photographs were published showing US soldiers abusing prisoners, some naked, or threatened with snarling dogs. Shandel said the decision to close the prison had been taken for "security reasons".

Situated in the Baghdad suburb of the same name, a bastion of Sunni insurgents, the compound includes the original 1960s, British-built jail and surrounding tented camp that has sprung up under US control. It has come under regular attack. The Red Cross, which has accused the US military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" in the jail, said it should be allowed to visit prisoners once they were transferred to the new detention centre.

Critics, however, dismissed the significance of the closure of Abu Ghraib since the detentions will continue as before. "They can't erase what they did simply by moving to other prisons, said Abdul Rahman Al Mashadani, head of Iraq's Hammurabi rights group.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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