BEIRUT

Middle East

Iraq claims 3,000 inmates freed amid demos

The deputy prime minister Hussein Shahristani (C) talks with people outside the Rusafa prison following the release of prisoners on January 14, 2013, in the capital Baghdad. AFP PHOTO/SABAH ARAR

MOSUL, Iraq: A top Iraqi minister said on Sunday that the authorities had released 3,000 prisoners over the past month in a bid to appease weeks of angry demonstrations in Sunni-majority areas of the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani's announcement is the latest in a series of government steps to curb the protests against the alleged mistreatment of the Sunni minority at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

"We have released 3,000 prisoners from Iraqi prisons in the last few weeks, and we transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces," Shahristani, who heads a cabinet committee tasked with addressing protesters' demands, told AFP during a visit to Mosul, a Sunni-majority city.

The two issues -- Sunni detainees being wrongfully held and poor treatment of female Sunni prisoners -- were among several that demonstrations in the north and west have focused on since they began in late December.

According to Shahristani, around 30,000 people are in Iraqi prisons, including those convicted of a range of offences and those being held without charge.

He estimated that about 17,000 were either convicted or accused of crimes unrelated to "terrorism."

The remaining 13,000 were around 6,000 convicted of terror-related offences, and a further 7,000 being held without charge or accused, but not yet convicted, of terror offences.

Shahristani was speaking after meeting Sunni tribal chiefs, religious leaders and representatives of demonstrators in Mosul, one of several cities where rallies have been held.

Protests have also called for reform of anti-terror laws that demonstrators say are used to target Sunnis, and in recent weeks they have increasingly called for the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here