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Iraq rights abuse worse than under saddam { November 28 2005 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
   http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/rights-abuse-worse-than-saddam/2005/11/27/1133026347610.html

http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/rights-abuse-worse-than-saddam/2005/11/27/1133026347610.html

Rights abuse 'worse than Saddam'
Email Print Normal font Large font London
November 28, 2005
Page 1 of 2

FORMER Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi says human rights abuse in the country is as bad, if not worse, than it was under Saddam Hussein.

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse, " Dr Allawi told British Sunday newspaper The Observer.

"These are the precise reasons why we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things."

Dr Allawi is a secular Shiite and former Baath Party member who is standing in elections scheduled for December 15.

"We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," he said, referring to the discovery of a bunker at the Iraqi Interior Ministry where 170 men were held prisoner, beaten and, in some cases, tortured.

"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations," Dr Allawi said, adding that the Interior Ministry was afflicted by a "disease".

If not cured, it "will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government".

"The Ministry of the Interior is at the heart of the matter," Dr Allawi said. "I am not blaming the minister himself, but the rank and file are behind the secret dungeons and some of the executions that are taking place."

In a further blow to the image of law and order in Iraq, videos appearing to show private security guards in Baghdad shooting people have sparked investigations.

The videos, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, show security guards opening fire with automatic rifles on cars. The incidents apparently happened on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

The road is regarded as the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year, it was the scene of 150 attacks.

In one of the videos, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred metres before it crashes into a taxi. In the last clip, a white car is raked with machine-gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle.

A spokesman for Aegis set up in 2002 by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer, a former British officer said the company was investigating the videos with the British Foreign Office.

Aegis is one of the biggest security companies in Iraq. The US Government recently awarded it a 220 million ($A510 million) contract.

Colonel Spicer, 53, rose to prominence in 1998 when his private military company Sandline International was accused of breaking United Nations sanctions by selling arms to Sierra Leone. In 1997, he was deported from Papua New Guinea after an aborted bid to crush the rebel movement in Bougainville.

The video first appeared on www.aegisIraq.co.uk. The website states: "This site does not belong to Aegis Defence Ltd, it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company." The clips have been removed.

The website also contains a message from Colonel Spicer that reads: "I am concerned about media interest in this site and I remind everyone of their contractual obligation not to speak to or assist the media without clearing it with the project management or Aegis London."

Captain Adnan Tawfiq, of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said he had received about 60 claims from families who alleged their relatives were shot by private security contractors.

"When the security companies kill people, they just drive away and nothing is done," he said. "Sometimes we ring the companies concerned and they deny everything. The families don't get any money or compensation."

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said on Saturday: "This is now a matter for the American authorities because Aegis is under contract to the United States."

REUTERS, TELEGRAPH

http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/rights-abuse-worse-than-saddam/2005/11/27/1133026347610.html?page=2

Rights abuse 'worse than Saddam'
Email Print Normal font Large font London
November 28, 2005
Page 2 of 2

Colonel Spicer, 53, rose to prominence in 1998 when his private military company Sandline International was accused of breaking United Nations sanctions by selling arms to Sierra Leone. In 1997, he was deported from Papua New Guinea after an aborted bid to crush the rebel movement in Bougainville.

The video first appeared on www.aegisIraq.co.uk. The website states: "This site does not belong to Aegis Defence Ltd, it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company." The clips have been removed.

The website also contains a message from Colonel Spicer that reads: "I am concerned about media interest in this site and I remind everyone of their contractual obligation not to speak to or assist the media without clearing it with the project management or Aegis London."

Captain Adnan Tawfiq, of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said he had received about 60 claims from families who alleged their relatives were shot by private security contractors.

"When the security companies kill people, they just drive away and nothing is done," he said. "Sometimes we ring the companies concerned and they deny everything. The families don't get any money or compensation."

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said on Saturday: "This is now a matter for the American authorities because Aegis is under contract to the United States."

REUTERS, TELEGRAPH




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