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Iraq to launch indictments over torture under past government

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi authorities announced on Wednesday plans to prosecute police and civil servants accused of torturing detainees under the administration of former prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi.

The 14 alleged perpetrators, including nine police officers, were part of a cell known as Committee 29 which had a free rein in 2020 to interrogate senior officials suspected of having a hand in Iraq’s endemic corruption.

The now-disbanded committee was headed by influential police general Ahmed Taha Hashem, known as Abu Ragheef.

The case has been referred to an investigating judge, the Supreme Judicial Council said on its website, adding that “a judicial investigation will be carried out”.

The government had decided to charge the police and civil servants after an enquiry found the committee had used “torture” and “extortion”, according to an internal report seen by AFP.

Iraq’s former prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. PHOTO: AFP

The probe was launched in December by the current government of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani after The Washington Post reported allegations of Committee 29 using torture to extract confessions.

In addition to the detained police general, eight officers, including one on the run, a sergeant and four civil servants, have been the subject of the government investigation, according to the document.

“The probe committee recommended sending the file and all investigation papers to the judiciary, as there have been proven shortcomings” incriminating the accused, according to a statement published on Wednesday by the prime minister’s office.

Authorities must look into “cases of enrichment” among the accused or their relatives, according to the statement.

Among the high-profile arrests by Committee 29 were the former director of the Iraqi pension fund, the former president of the Baghdad Investment Commission and the former director of the electronic payment company Qi Card.

Oil-rich Iraq has for years suffered from rampant corruption which has infiltrated all levels of the state. In the rare instances graft is addressed, Iraq’s powerful most often do not get implicated.