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Iraq releases 2 accused of committing massacre against Sunni worshippers

August 17, 2020 at 1:15 pm

Iraqi policemen stand guard as Sunni and Shiite tribal clerics and leaders meet to discuss reconciliation between the Muslim sects and how to prevent sectarian violence in the town of Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, in Iraq’s mix province of Diyala, on January 23, 2016. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]

 The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council yesterday released two individuals accused of committing a massacre against dozens of Sunni worshippers in the Diyala governorate in 2014, because of a lack of evidence.

A statement issued by the council stated that after investigating the shooting of worshippers in Mus’ab Ibn Omair Mosque, which led to the death of 37 persons, it had been found that there was not enough evidence to condemn the accused.

On 22 August 2014, two gunmen stormed the mosque in Imam Wais’ village in the governorate and shot and killed tens of Sunni worshippers during Friday prayers.

Human Rights Watch accused the Shia faction Asaib Ahl Al-Haq of leading the armed attack.

READ: Iraq protesters storm Dhi Qar Governorate building over poor services

The council’s statement added: “The only evidence in the case is the defendants’ confession before the investigator during the preliminary investigation phase, which is not a sufficient ground for judgment, especially as their medical report stated that they were under pressure.”

The case suffered as a result of “the contradictions of the witnesses’ statements… and the lack of technical evidence”, the statement explained.

The release of the accused has aroused resentment and anger among Sunni politicians in Iraq, as former Speaker of Parliament Salim Al-Jubouri tweeted: “The release of the perpetrators of the massacre is a devastating blow to justice, which has been stabbed with the injustice from which it has been suffering for many years.”

The leader of the Salvation and Development Front, Osama Al-Nujaifi, tweeted: “We were deeply grieved by the news of the release of criminals condemned to death, who committed a terrible massacre.”