The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports Monday that Iraq’s Human
Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin said he will investigate claims that Iraq’s
new Prime Minister Iyad Allawi killed six prisoners just days before he
took office. Mr. Amin said he does not believe they are true.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne, two of Australia’s top
newspapers, ran the story about the alleged incident on Saturday, prompting
a furious round of denials from Mr. Allawi’s office, which said Allawi
doesn’t carry a gun and never visited the detention center in question.
Australian journalist Paul McGeough, who broke the story, and then left
Iraq for Jordan because of safety fears, stood by his report.
In his report Saturday, Mr. McGeough quoted two unnamed witnesses who say
they were at the prison southwest of Baghdad when Allawi pulled a pistol
and “executed as many as six suspected insurgents …” At least five of the
prisoners shot were Iraqis, the witnesses said.
One of the witnesses claimed that before killing the prisoners – and they
name three of the people alleged to have been executed – Dr. Allawi had
told them he wanted to send a clear message to the police on how to deal
with insurgents. “The prisoners were against the wall and we were standing
in the courtyard when the Interior Minister said that he would like to kill
them all on the spot. Allawi said that they deserved worse than death – but
then he pulled the pistol from his belt and started shooting them,” one of
the witnesses said.
The Herald article also report that almost a dozen Iraqi policemen and four
Americans from the Allawi’s personal security team “watched in stunned
silence” as the alleged event unfolded. Iraq’s Interior Minister, Falah
al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated Allawi when the job
was done. The article also points out that the two witnesses quoted in the
article supported Allawi’s actions.