Tortured men look like 'Holocaust
By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
Independent" -- -- Iraq's Interior Minister has
defended the treatment of abused prisoners found in a government
bunker, declaring that "no one was beheaded or killed". But while Bayan Jabr insisted that the allegations of torture were
"exaggerated" fresh details emerged of the horrific conditions
endured by the captives.
Witnesses said many of the 169 men and youths were emaciated and
looked like "Holocaust survivors". Some had suffered beatings so
severe that their skin had peeled off, and three men had been kept
locked in a cupboard where they could not move. All the others were
packed, blindfolded, into three rooms nine feet long and 11 feet
Instruments of torture and beating were found hidden in a false
ceiling. Witnesses also said that the guards in charge of the
detainees, all but three of whom were Sunnis, at an interior
ministry bunker in central Baghdad, wore combat fatigues of the Shia
Badr Brigades militia. "Because of the appalling overcrowding, some
of the most badly treated were squashed on to floors and their skins
got stuck to the floor," said a witness.
Mr Jabr, a former member of the militia, insisted that only seven of
the prisoners showed marks of torture, and those responsible will be
punished. He continued: "You can be proud of our forces. Our forces
respect human rights. We are the government and we are responsible
for protecting you."
Those being held were "the most dangerous criminal terrorists", the
minister said at a press conference. He added: "Those criminal
killers inside the bunkers were not Pakistanis or Iranians. Those
are your Arab brothers that came here to kill your sons." Asked
about one prisoner who was paralysed, Mr Jabr said he was a Shia who
had been responsible for four car bombings resulting in 66 deaths in
return for $1,000 (£582) from insurgents.
The prisoners were found by American troops and Iraqi police trying
to trace a 15-year-old boy whose family had access to a US
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