Shocking pictures released of 'tortured' Iraqi prisoners
GRUESOME images of battered and bruised Iraqi prisoners allegedly tortured by Shiah militants inside a Baghdad jail were released today.
The series of pictures show prisoners, both men and teenagers, with injuries which appear to have been caused by beatings. One man's leg appears to have been beaten to such an extent that his upper leg is just a mass of black and blue.
At least two of the men appear to have been beaten across the back, while other prisoners reveal severe bruising to their arms, legs and buttocks.
Sunni Arab politicians today demanded an international investigation into allegations that Shiah militias linked to Iraq's interior ministry tortured and abused prisoners in the secret bunker.
The underground bunker, part of a fortified building near the ministry's Baghdad compound, was discovered by US troops during a search at the weekend. It is feared the photographs could fuel sectarian tensions between opposing Sunni and Shiah factions ahead of parliamentary elections on December 15.
A Shiah militia suspected of involvement denied any ties to the facility, saying it was being blamed in an effort to discredit Shiahs before elections.
The discovery comes as a major embarrassment to the US-backed government, which has promised to deliver human rights after decades of dictatorship under Saddam Hussein.
Sunni politician Omar Hujail, of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said it was not the only place where Sunni Arabs were held and tortured.
"We have been telling them for ages that there are people wearing the uniforms of the interior ministry raiding houses at night and arresting people, but everybody denied it. We urge the UN and human rights organisations to denounce these violations and we call on them to conduct a fair international investigation."
But the US, some of whose forces have tortured detainees in Iraq, rejected the Sunni calls.
A State Department spokesman said: "We have every reason to believe [the Iraqis] can and will," hold a credible investigation.
spokeswoman Marie Okabe said: "The UN has repeatedly expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations in Iraq, and specifically the lack of due process for detainees and abuses against them."
However, Hadi al-Amery, who heads the Badr Organisation, a militia group tightly allied to SCIRI, a powerful Shiah Muslim political party in government, denied any link to the bunker.
He said: "This bunker is run by the interior ministry. The Americans are there every day. If there was torture, we ask for an investigation."
A guard at the bunker today showed no remorse saying the prisoners were "terrorists". Seif Saad, 18, described how security forces raided homes of the detained suspects or snatched them from the streets. "We placed sacks on their heads and tied their hands behind their backs," he said.
Mr Amery added that the US raid on the bunker appeared to have been carried out to give Sunnis a boost ahead of the elections.
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