Iraq's PM: all who use torture during an investigation would be held accountable

Iraq's PM: all who use torture during an investigation would be held accountable

Shafaq News/ The Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia'a Al-Sudani, directed to hold accountable any party that used "torture and forced confessions" in investigation proceedings.

Al-Sudani's statement came after the Washington Post revealed that a series of "highly publicized night raids were made in late 2020 on the homes of public figures in Iraq, accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29."

The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the "night visitor."

The committee used incommunicado detention, torture, and sexual violence to extract confessions from senior Iraqi officials and businessmen, according to a nine-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Zaidan Khalaf, Al-Sudani's advisor for human rights, said in a statement that the Prime Minister directed all relevant ministries, agencies, and intelligence departments to hold any government official accountable when using violence and torture.

"We work to ensure the rule of law, equal rights, and obligations among citizens,…we will not allow individual practices to destroy our people's confidence in the judiciary," Khalaf stressed.

The Washington Post reported that what happened during the investigations of the accused men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the "ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address."

In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the Abu Ragheef committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials discussed sensitive matters with the Journal.

"It was every kind of torture," one former detainee recalled. "Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. Then, they stripped us naked and grabbed the parts of our body underneath."

In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee.

"There's an element of political extortion and blackmail which plays a part in this," said a senior Iraqi official who served in al-Kadhimi's government. "There are cases where there are shakedowns. You attack someone's power base, their business power base, in a particular government agency, not only to indict these people and expose corruption but also to create space for your people to come."

Former detainees and Iraqi officials told the Post that additional abuses occurred in an underground prison in the Green Zone in Baghdad, the U.S.-built, heavily fortified seat of power for Iraq's leaders.

"They began to torture me for 13 days, asking me who I gave bribes to and how much money I had," recounted one man detained by the committee during the opening round of arrests. "They asked for $1.5 million from me. I told them I couldn't pay because the money was tied up in projects, so they started with electric shocks in the penis area, beating with metal poles, hanging me on the wall."

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