- Title: IRAQ: U.S. forces release prisoners from their custody in Baghdad
- Date: 22nd February 2009
- Summary: BAGHDAD, IRAQ (FEBRUARY 22, 2009) (REUTERS) UMM AL-QURRA MOSQUE, THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE SUNNI ENDOWMENT IN IRAQ/ U.S CONVOY U.S. SOLDIERS OUTSIDE UMM AL-QURRA MOSQUE U.S. MILITARY CONVOY PARKED OUTSIDE UMM AL-QURRA MOSQUE
- Embargoed: 9th March 2009 18:43
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVA2ZPNFQFRIBTTTAWSYH4Z2I9AO
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: The U.S. forces in Iraq release around 60 prisoners from their run prisons in Baghdad. The release took place at Umm al-Qurra mosque in western Baghdad.
About 60 Iraqi prisoners were released on Sunday (February 22) from the U.S.-run prisons in Iraq.
The release took place at Umm al-Qurra mosque in western Baghdad, the headquarters of the Sunni endowment in Iraq.
Most of the prisoners were released from Bucca prison in southern Baghdad where, they claim, there still remain many innocent detainees serving their terms.
"I was in prison in Basra for 22 months. I'm innocent from all the charges that I have been accused of. Thanks God, that I have been innocent and I'm here. We are very happy as we did not expect to come here and to see our families. We call for the release of our brothers in Bucca," said Habib Shalal.
An estimated 17,000 Iraqi detainees are still held in U.S. custody and may soon be transferred under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi government detention system.
"I was detained for one year and ten months, since 2007. Thanks God, we have been released today from custody. Thanks God," said another released prisoner Hussein Ahmed reunited with his family.
At the release ceremony the head of Sunni endowment in Iraq, Abdulghafour al-Samaraeie, pledged to press for the release of other innocent prisoners.
"I know that many of you have been detained for crimes committed by others and I know that many innocent people are behind bars. We will exert utmost efforts to release the other detainees," Abdulghafour al-Samaraeie told ex-prisoners.
Most of the prisoners have been randomly detained by the U.S. forces and the Iraqi security during military operations in the areas which were once the heartland of insurgency. Many of the former insurgent fighters detained by the U.S. are likely to be Sunnis who formed the bulk of the anti-government forces.
The Iraqi Government has already released several thousands of prisoners who apparently have not been involved in serious crimes.
The prisoners are being released as a gesture of good will to boost reconciliation between the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority in Iraq.
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