US opens first prison for looters of Baghdad

  • Press Trust of India, PTI, Baghdad
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2003 12:39 IST

The courtyard of Baghdad's town hall is filling up with some of the city's looters, on their knees, heads covered with cloth sacking and hands tied behind their backs.

What was once a symbol of Saddam Hussein's quarter century rule of terror has been converted by US forces into a prison for those Baghdadis who were caught indiscriminately ransacking their city in the days after the Iraqi strongman's regime collapsed.

US marines have deployed tanks and jeeps around the courtyard between two town hall buildings. Some heavily armed soldiers stretch out on the grass while others take aim at nine sweating looters, barefoot and in rags, trussed and with heads lowered.
One prisoner is pushed roughly to the floor. A marine pulls the detainee's shirt up over his head so he can't see what's going on in the complex. He is made to lie out in the dust, as his fellow looters are.

Several marines keep guard over the prisoners. A jeep pulls up with a man face down on the front. His hands are bound behind his back and feet tied tight with the strong, thin tape shopkeepers use to gift-wrap presents.

"He robbed a bank," the driver says.

In the back of the jeep are four Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. "They belong to these nine looters. They attacked shops and passers-by while threatening them with their weapons," the soldier explained. "From now we are banning looting and carrying arms in the streets.

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