Thursday December 02, 2021

In first, Iraq arrests four suspects in protest killings

February 15, 2021

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces have arrested four individuals in the southern city of Basra suspected of killing anti-government protesters and vocal journalists, two senior security officials told AFP on Sunday.

The arrests would represent the first major step towards justice for some of the nearly 600 Iraqis killed in protest-related violence, including assassinations, since 2019.

"Intelligence forces arrested four suspected members of a 16-person network responsible for the assassinations in Basra targeting activists," one of the sources said.

The source said Iraqi intelligence was still working to identify the remaining members of the network and would not comment on whether the accused were linked to any political party or paramilitary force.

"They confessed to their crimes, including the killing of Iraqi journalist Ahmad Abdessamad, and a number of other activists," the official said.

Abdessamad, 37, was killed in January 2020 alongside his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 26, in their hometown of Basra. Armed men in a 4x4 approached the two reporters as they were parked in a car near a police station.

Abdessamad had been vocally supportive of anti-government rallies that erupted across southern Iraq in October 2019.