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Iraq officially takes over Abu Ghraib prison

The Iraqi government has formally taken over the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, site of an abuse scandal by US soldiers.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 14:18 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

The Iraqi government has formally taken over the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, site of an abuse scandal by US soldiers, a government spokesman said on Saturday.

"The Abu Ghraib detention facility was handed over to the Iraqi government," said Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"It is now empty of any detainees."

The deputy justice minister confirmed last Sunday that the lockup was emptied on August 15.

Al-Dabbagh said the facility had become synonymous with abuse.

"This detention facility has witnessed serious violations and serious crimes during the rule of Saddam Hussein," he said.

"It has also witnessed human rights violations by members of the US forces, who were tried. The media practiced its full role in disclosing these violations."

Abu Ghraib came to symbolise American mishandling of some prisoners captured in Iraq, both during the US-led invasion three years ago and in the fight to subdue the largely Sunni Arab insurgency since then.

Widely publicised photographs of prisoner abuse by American military guards and interrogators at the facility prompted intense global criticism of the US war in Iraq and fuelled the insurgency.

The scandal led to a wide-scale investigation that resulted in convictions and dismissals against a number of US soldiers.

Abu Ghraib was also a notorious detention center during Saddam Hussein's days, where the former dictator incarcerated his political opponents.

Right before the invasion, Saddam released thousands of inmates at the facility, including common criminals, which was seen as a move aimed at spreading chaos after the military attack.

Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim said last week that the detainees at Abu Ghraib were moved to a new $60 million detention facility that has been built as part of Camp Cropper, near Baghdad International Airport.

Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi government is still deciding on what to do with the facility.

It will be used "in a way that can serve the national interest," he said, without elaborating.

First Published: Sep 02, 2006 14:18 IST