Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tortured screams ring out as Iraqis take over Abu Ghraib


"The notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad is at the centre of fresh abuse allegations just a week after it was handed over to Iraqi authorities, with claims that inmates are being tortured by their new captors.

Staff at the jail say the Iraqi authorities have moved dozens of terrorist suspects into Abu Ghraib from the controversial Interior Ministry detention centre in Jadriyah, where United States troops last year discovered 169 prisoners who had been tortured and starved.

An independent witness who went into Abu Ghraib this week told The Sunday Telegraph that screams were coming from the cell blocks housing the terrorist suspects. Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on Wednesday, 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Access to the part of the prison containing terrorism suspects was denied, but from that block came the sound of screaming. The screaming continued for a long time.

"I am sure someone was being beaten, they were screaming like they were being hit," the witness reported. "I felt scared, I was asking what was happening in the terrorist section.

"I heard shouting, like someone had a hot iron on their body, screams. The officer said they were just screaming by themselves. I was hearing the screams throughout the visit."

Haleem Aleulami, who was released from the jail last week, three weeks after being arrested in Ramadi for carrying a pistol in his car, said the Americans had treated him better when they ran the jail. He claimed that visits from the International Red Cross staff had dried up and accused local human rights workers of being members of Shia groups who turned a blind eye to problems in the jail.

"The people are Iraqis and they are members of the Sciri and al Dawa parties. They have a good relationship with the leaders of the jail and they keep quiet," he said. The guards swore at the ordinary prisoners, he said, but those in the terrorist section were treated more brutally."

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