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Four Guantanamo prisoners handed over to Iraq: ICRC

Four Iraqi prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been handed over to the authorities in Baghdad, a Red Cross official said today. Around 60 of the current 245 prisoners might have to be transferred to third countries because they could face the death penalty at home, while others could be tried in US courts.

world Updated: Feb 09, 2009 23:23 IST

Four Iraqi prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been handed over to the authorities in Baghdad, a Red Cross official told AFP on Monday.

"ICRC was informed by the American authorities of the transfer of four Iraqi detainees of Guantanamo to their country on January 18," said a senior International Committee of the Red Cross official in Iraq.

"These detainees were visited by the Red Cross when they were in Guantanamo. The ICRC asked the Iraqi authorities to inform them where they are located and to give the opportunity to ICRC to visit them," the official added.

An interior ministry official, contacted by AFP, said he had no information on the handover.

US President Barack Obama has decided to close the detention centre at the American naval base at Guantanamo, and his Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that Washington would ask other countries to take in prisoners.

"We will ask others to take responsibility for some of those now at Guantanamo, as we determine to close it," Biden said at security conference in Munich, Germany.

Around 60 of the current 245 prisoners might have to be transferred to third countries because they could face the death penalty at home, while others could be tried in US courts.

According to a list released by the US Department of Defence in May 2006, eight Iraqi nationals were detained at Guantanamo.

One of them, Bisher al-Rawi, was subsequently released in April 2007, after nearly five years in custody at the American detention facility, and returned to his family in Britain.

He had been arrested in November 2002 while on a business trip to Gambia, where his supporters say he was helping his older brother Wahab set up a peanut oil processing business.

Rawi had been accused of participating in terrorist training in Bosnia and Afghanistan.