Tuesday, July 15, 2008

U.S.: Torture, murder at Iraqi juvenile prison

American investigators probing allegations of torture at an Iraqi-run juvenile prison in Baghdad found clear evidence earlier this year that Sunni children had been murdered by their Shiite captors, according to a lead officer on the investigative team.
"The security detail came in literally as they were cleaning the blood from the floor - they had just killed two Sunni kids," said Lt. Col. Craig J. Simper, a Judge Advocate General Corps officer from the Utah-based 419th Fighter Wing, who helped arrange the inspection. "The explanation was that these guys were trying to escape, but our investigation concluded that they were actually scheduled for release."

Under the social affairs ministry, juvenile detention centers are supposed to offer academic and vocational training, but Simper described "a prison in the very worst sense . . . it was worse than the adult prisons."
"We found lots of evidence of torture, of physical and sexual abuse, just deplorable conditions," he said. "The rats were the size of Chihuahuas and the juveniles were being housed 50 to a cell."
Simper said the boys being held in the prison were as young as 6 years old. The two boys who were killed were in their midteens, he said.
But speaking on background, a senior official of the task force still in Bagdad gave a different account. The official said that there were "unsubstantiated allegations that two Sunni juveniles were executed on the street outside the facility after they were released" and that the task force "found no records of the incident and no documentary evidence."

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