BAGHDAD - Iraq 's Governing Council long suspected
abuses at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison but American soldiers
covered them up each time Iraqi officials went to investigate,
the former interior minister said Wednesday.
Nouri Badran, who resigned as interior minister last month,
also told Reuters in an interview that the United States must
allow Iraqis to participate in any investigation into prisoner
abuses if Washington wanted to repair its credibility in Iraq.
"Every time they had pressure on them and there was a
visit, they arranged things in advance. They cleaned up the
prison and fixed the situation of the prisoners," Badran said.
"So when a council member or another official went there
they saw nothing."
Photographs showing naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated
in Abu Ghraib have outraged Iraqis and damaged U.S. prestige
and credibility in the Middle East.
The U.S. military has already charged several guards with
abuse and says it is investigating accusations of rape and
"The abuses have been happening for a long time and the
occupation forces knew about them. We heard about them from
prisoners who were released. The occupation officials said
nothing when we asked them," Badran said.
"When Iraqi security forces arrested a suspect, the
occupation forces used to come and take him and we did not know
anything about him afterwards. We did not imagine that the
abuses reached these levels," he added.
Badran urged the United States to allow Iraqi officials to
participate in the investigation into the accusations.
"It means nothing in Iraq if a few U.S. officers are sacked
over this," Badran said. "When occupation officials now say
they are fostering human rights the average Iraq will
disbelieve them after seeing rights trampled."
Badran said when he resigned suddenly last month that he
had quit because U.S. officials wanted an appropriate ethnic
and religious mix in the cabinet.
But he later said the coalition also failed to involve his
ministry in security decisions and denied it resources to fight
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