Iraqi lawmakers demand inquiry of abuse claims

AP News
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Posted: Oct 28, 2010 1:38 PM
Iraqi lawmakers demand inquiry of abuse claims

The Iraqi prime minister's political opponents demanded Thursday that parliament hold a special session to investigate claims that prisoners have been tortured by his government.

Lawmakers from the Sunni-backed Iraqiya group have seized on the abuse allegations that surfaced last week in a cache of secret U.S. military documents released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks as evidence that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is unfit to govern. Al-Maliki, meanwhile, has attacked the WikiLeaks release as an attempt to undermine him as he seeks to clench a second term in office.

Parliament has been stalled while Iraqiya and al-Maliki's Shiite-led coalition battle for the right to form a new government after inconclusive March 7 elections.

"The representatives of the people should not be any less humane than the international organizations that have called for an investigation," Iraqiya spokesman Haidar al-Mullah told reporters.

He said the inquiry would focus in part on al-Maliki's oversight of Iraqi security forces in his role as the nation's commander in chief since some of the alleged abuse by Iraqi security forces occurred after he became prime minister in May 2006.

Iraq's highest court has ordered lawmakers back to work, and the Iraqiya demand increased pressure for a new session. The 325 lawmakers have met only once since they were elected for a 20-minute session in June because of the stalemate.

Acting parliament Speaker Fouad Massoum, a Kurd, said he will decide whether to call lawmakers back to Baghdad after a Sunday meeting of representatives from Iraq's major political alliances and insisted that Iraqiya's demands would not speed that timetable.

The reports of alleged abuse of mostly Sunni detainees at the hands of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces has reignited Sunni fears of another four years under al-Maliki, despite the prime minister's efforts to portray himself as a national leader above sectarian divisions.

Al-Maliki's office has insisted the documents show no proof that detainees were abused under his watch.

Violence has dropped sharply over the past few years, but attacks have continued on a near-daily basis.

A suicide bomber killed one policeman and wounded seven others at a checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul Thursday, while bombs hidden on the cars of two police officials killed one and sent the other to the hospital in Baghdad.