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Iraqi Prison Official Denies Abuse At Baghdad Detention Center

BAGHDAD -- A senior official in charge of Iraqi prisons has denied a report that special forces linked to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki run a detention center where detainees are subject to abuse, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

A "Los Angeles Times" report on January 24 said the facility inside Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone was run in part by the Baghdad Brigade, which reports to Maliki, and that detainees there have been held for months without access to lawyers or their families.

Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told RFE/RL today the facility in question, known as Camp Honor, was handed over to the ministry, which has been running it for over a year now.

Red Cross 'Has Inspected'

Ibrahim described as "untrue" allegations that some detainees have been abused. He said the detention center has been inspected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and that inmates receive regular visits by their relatives. He said the facility meets all international standards in this respect.

But Layal Houranieh, an ICRC spokeswoman, told RFE/RL today the Red Cross has not been able to visit this particular facility.

"Discussions are under way with high-level Iraqi officials on granting the ICRC full access to this detention center as well as other jails throughout Iraq," she said. "We could not visit this place because the authorities did not allow us full access, as the ICRC does when visiting other prisons in Iraq and the world at large."

Rights activist Hassan Shabaan told RFE/RL the location of the detention facility is problematic because of the difficulties relatives of the inmates encounter on entering the Green Zone. He called for the prison to be moved outside the zone.

Saad Muttalibi, a leading member of Maliki's State of Law faction, told RFE/RL that some of the dangerous detainees needed to be held in a secure area but that it was up to the Justice Ministry to decide. Muttalibi said the issue should not be politicized.

The "Los Angeles Times" quoted a letter from Iraq's human rights minister dated October 2010 calling for the jail to be closed, saying such a move was necessary to reform the facility.

Deputy Justice Minister Ibrahim said that 270 detainees were held in the compound pending an investigation that may result in their release or trial in a court of law.