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Former Iraq Minister: U.S. Forces Covered Up Abuses
Published on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 by Reuters
Former Iraq Minister: U.S. Forces Covered Up Abuses
by Khaled Yacoub Oweis
 

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 murder.

"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 rampant crime.

© Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd

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