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Iraq summons ex-ministers of interior, defence over crackdown on protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran, Iran on 21 July 2020. [Presidency of Iran/Handout - Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran, Iran on 21 July 2020. [Presidency of Iran/Handout - Anadolu Agency]

The former Iraqi ministers of interior and defence have been summoned as part of the government's ongoing investigation into the violent protests that swept the country late last year and led to the killing of hundreds of protesters, the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council revealed yesterday.

Judge Faiq Zaidan said in a statement that he had met with the National Security Adviser Qasim Al-Araji, chief of National Security Agency Abdul Ghani Al-Asadi and the head of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service Brigadier General Abdel-Wahab Al-Saedi to discuss the litigations concerning the killing and wounding of protesters and law enforcement personnel.

"The investigative bodies specialising in these cases have issued a number of arrest warrants for a number of employees in the ministries of defence and interior, but under the Military Notices Law and the Internal Security Forces Notifications Law, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Interior must approve them before they are implemented," he said.

Judge Zaidan said a number of officers are currently under arrest pending investigation in these cases.

More than 500 protesters were shot dead by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to militias during protests calling for change late last year. Thousands of others were injured.

Since he took office in May, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has taken a number of decisions regarding the human rights file, including the release of all anti-government protesters held since October 2019 and ordered an investigation into the existence of secret government prisons in which demonstrators are being held.

Al-Kadhimi also pledged to hold those responsible for the killings to account and offered the dead protesters' families $8,380 in compensation.

READ: Ex-UN worker accused of drugging, assaulting women in Iraq

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