160 Arabs Face Death Penalty in Iraq

An Iraqi journalist, however, believes those Arabs, even those proved to be fighters against the occupation forces, should be treated as prisoners of war and should not face the capital punishment.

“Those fighters, if charges were proved, should be classified as war prisoners,” Iraqi journalist Nasser Al-Naquib told IslamOnline.net Tuesday, October 26.

Noting Iraq is still suffering under the yoke of the US occupation and its daily attacks against Iraqi cities, the reporter added that Arabs who cross into the country to resist the foreign troops must be subjected to a fair trial.

“Even if they were proved guilty, they should be imprisoned for a maximum of eight years. According to Iraq ’s criminal law, illegal entry into the country is punishable by up to 8 years in jail, not by the death penalty.”

Death Penalty

Iraqi interim Justice Minister Malik Dohan Al-Hassan has sparked the controversy by declaring that the Arab fighters who illegally entered Iraq face the death penalty under charges of carrying out what he termed “terror” attacks against US forces.

“The Arabs have been referred to Iraqi courts and the verdicts against these foreigners are due to be pronounced soon for acts of terror they carried out in Iraq ,” Agence Prance Presse (AFP) reported.

“The crimes committed in Iraq will be judged according to Iraqi law which reserves the death sentence for those charged with premeditated murder or those who carry out a car bombing to kill the biggest number of people,” he said.

He noted those in trial included fighters from Syria , Jordan , the Palestinian territories, Iran, Yemen , Egypt , Morocco and Lebanon .

Some observers saw the ministers’ statements as a mockery of Iraqi courts as he already issued the verdict in public instead of waiting for justice to take its course.

Others, however, raised serious concerns over the procedures and process of charging and building cases against the suspects in light of the chaos gripping all walks of life in Iraq .

Violations

A case in point, the Iraqi Justice Minister himself admitted that detentions and arrests in Iraq were not strictly in accordance with the law and that human rights violations are taking place against detainees in the war-torn country.

“According to the law, a suspect must appear before a judge within 24 hours after his detention, who must issue an arrest warrant,” he said.

“Prisons refuse entrance to anyone who does not have such a warrant.”

But if the police do a raid in Najaf, for example, and arrest 500 people on the same day, how could they all be brought before a judge?” the Iraqi minister charged.

“In certain cases, violations of the law can take place.”.

The justice minister stressed, however, his ministry is working to bring an end to such violations.

“The ministry would resolve these situations, however, by the dispatch of special judges into the towns were large-scale arrests have occurred.”

“In addition, new prisons will be built, one in Nasiriyah, to the south, which will hold 4,000 detainees and another for 3,000 people in Khan Bani Saad, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Baghdad .”

The death penalty, which was in force under the former Iraqi regime, was reinstated by the interim government on August 8, after being abolished by the former US civil Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer.

The Washington Post had reported October 24, that the CIA invoked a secret memo by the Justice Department to justify the transfer of up to dozens of Iraqi and Arab detainees outside Iraq for interrogation.

A Pentagon spokesman admitted that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally ordered a secret detention of an Iraqi detainee without giving him an identification number so that he can escape the eyes of ICRC teams.

The ICRC accused the US of hiding hundreds of suspects captured in its so-called war on terror in secret locations worldwide.

In a report entitled "Ending Secret Detention", the American Human Rights First said the United States has more than 24 world detention camps, at least half of them operate in total secrecy, where the abuse of detainees is "inevitable".

Also, the Observer reported on Sunday, June 13, that Washington and its allies are running a wanton global network of detention camps allowing the US to fly terror suspects to other countries where they are tortured for information.

In an unprecedented move, 31 United Nations human rights experts pressed Friday, June 25, for access to so-called terror suspects around the world.

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