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Sunnis said Tortured in Secret Iraq Prison


BAGHDAD -- Sunni Muslims, many
of them arrested with no warrant, were tortured in a secret Iraqi
prison that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has shut down, officials

Hundreds of Sunni men who were detained in October in Nineveh
province -- where al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups are
dominant -- were held for months in the secret facility, the Los
Angeles Times reported Sunday. Many of them were routinely subjected to
torture under the jurisdiction of Maliki's military office until Iraqi
human rights authorities were able to gain access to the prison, the
newspaper said.

Provincial authorities in Nineveh alleged at the time of the sweeps
that ordinary citizens had been caught up in sweeping arrests targeting

Iraqi security officials, concerned about the possibility that
courts would order those detained to be released, managed to obtain a
court order to transfer the arrested Sunnis to the prison in Baghdad,
the Times reported. They were held there until Iraq's Human Rights
Ministry inspected the prison.

Maliki said he would close the prison down and have its officers
arrested, the Times said. Seventy-five of the arrested Sunnis have been
released and 275 have been sent to conventional jails, officials said.

Inspectors concluded 431 people had been held at the facility and that more than 100 were tortured.

"There were a lot of marks on their bodies," an Iraqi official
familiar with the inspections said. "They beat people, they used
electricity. They suffocated them with plastic bags, and different

Human rights officials said prisoners told them one of the prisoners
-- said to be a military officer under former dictator Saddam Hussein
-- died at the prison in January as a result of being tortured.

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