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Iraq Wants U.S. To Transfer Control Of Iraqi Prisoners

Prisoners who have been released from Abu Ghurayb Prison in 2005 (RFE/RL) 16 February 2006 -- Iraq's human rights minister has urged U.S.-led forces to hand over all Iraqi inmates at American-run prisons to the Baghdad government.

The call by Zuhair al-Chalabi today comes after new images of prisoner abuse emerged concerning Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghurayb Prison. The images were taken in late 2003 and were broadcast by an Australian television station.

U.S. forces are holding about 14,000 detainees at several prisons around Iraq, including Abu Ghurayb. Most of those detained have been rounded up on suspicion of planning or carrying out attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces.

A top U.S. military spokesman, Major General Rick Lynch, told reporters in Baghdad today the images were related to an isolated event.

"We are not seeing any increased [Iraqi] hostility as a result of those pictures being released,” Lynch said. “We are not seeing that. Remember, those pictures were pictures of criminal acts that took place many years ago: rogue soldiers doing activity that wasn't supported by their chain of command, and those rogue soldiers have been punished."

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the images depict behavior that the United States has already denounced and punished.

Also today, a statement issued by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari's office said the Iraqi government will act to prevent further abuses of its citizens.

(AP, Reuters)

RFE/RL Iraq Report

RFE/RL Iraq Report

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