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240 inmates freed from Abu Ghraib jail

Abu Ghraib (Iraq), May 4
The US authorities freed some 240 inmates from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad to waiting relatives today, amid continuing tension over the abuse of prisoners by military guards.

At midday today, scores clustered around a US soldier, who emerged at the dusty perimeter of the sprawling complex, to announce the names of those released to a crowd of some 200 persons, but most were left disappointed.

Some 5,000 so-called “security detainees” remain inside, some of whom have been held since the US-led invasion of the country in March last year which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Despite the huge death toll from Saddam’s time and a US investigation that has seen six guards charged with criminal offences and seven officers reprimanded, few outside the jail were convinced that much had changed.

Haidar Hassan, whose brother Ahmed, 25, has been held for nearly four months after being arrested near the scene of a roadside bombing, said, “We would rather accept the hell of Saddam and not the heaven of Bush”.

Geneva: Any proven abuse of Iraqi prisoners held by the occupation forces in Iraq should lead to court action against those responsible, the International Committee of the Red Cross said today.

An ICRC spokeswoman also said that the International Red Cross regularly visited Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. “When there is information relating to torture it is extremely important that there should be a serious investigation, and if the allegations prove to be true, then such acts should be punished by the law,” said spokeswoman Antonella Notari. — AFP

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