WASHINGTON: US and Iraqi inspectors have found more cases of physical abuse of prisoners at facilities run by the Shia-dominated Interior Ministry, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday. The US-Iraqi teams have inspected six detention facilities since November when the US military discovered a secret bunker with 173 prisoners, some of them showing signs of torture, at an Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad, said spokesman Bryan Whitman.
“In some of these inspections, they have revealed some instances of physical abuse, but abuse that appears to have occurred prior to the individual arriving at that site,” he said. Whitman said the Iraqi Interior Ministry was responsible for any investigations into the abuse. “I think we all need to be reminded: Iraq is a sovereign nation” he said. “They’ve just appointed a prime minister, okay. The US is there in a supporting, assisting kind of role.”
The Washington Post, which first reported the abuse, quoted a US and an Iraqi official as saying that abuse of prisoners was found at all the sites visited through February. A US official involved in the inspections described in an e-mail the abuse, mentioning “numerous bruises on the arms, legs and feet,” the Post said. “A lot of the Iraqis had separated shoulders and problems with their hands and fingers too,” the official is quoted as saying. “You could also see strap marks on some of their backs.”