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MENAFN - Arab News - 22/01/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) An Iraqi official has denied reports that Saudi prisoners are being tortured in his country in retaliation for the Iraqi football team's recent defeat at the Gulf Cup finals in Manama.

"Reports of torture and abuse of Saudi prisoners are baseless and illogical," spokesman of Iraq's Interior Ministry Brig. Saad Ibrahim said in a statement to a local newspaper recently.

On the other hand, a Saudi citizen languishing in an Iraqi prison told the daily by telephone that a number of Saudi inmates have been subjected to abuse by their warders following the recent sport event. The prisoner appealed to the authorities in both countries to intervene swiftly to end the prisoners' ordeal.

"Some warders started kicking and beating us after Friday's final match between the teams of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq for the Gulf 21 Cup in Bahrain. The jail officials were angry at the Saudi prisoners because a Saudi umpire, Khalil Galal, refereed the game in which Iraq was defeated," the inmate said during the conversation.

The prisoner's complaint confirmed a statement made by Chairman of the Committee for Saudi Prisoners in Iraq Thamir Al-Bulaihid who said 20 Saudis were attacked inside Iraqi jails on Sunday after the UAE team defeated Iraq in Manama. According to Al-Bulaihid the inmates were beaten up and abused.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman refuted these allegations and said Iraq's team participated in the game with a spirit of sportsmanship. "Iraqi Premier Nuri Al-Maliki congratulated the UAE team. Our government and people were not disappointed with our national team and welcomed them back warmly because they knew that the team played well throughout the tournament," Ibrahim pointed out.

He added that some people who wanted to create discord between the two brotherly countries circulated the false reports.

Adding to the controversial claims, it was reported that upon the Iraqi teams return to Baghdad, the prime minister said they were treated unfairly during the finals.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Ambassador to the Kingdom Ghanem Al-Jamili stressed the need for implementing a prisoner swap agreement between the two countries without any delay, adding that the agreement was delayed due to the current political instability in his country.

Al-Jamili also highlighted that the implementation of the agreement required the cooperation of the interior and justice ministries in the two countries. According to him, the Iraqi Embassy has been trying its best to gather the latest information about Saudi prisoners and pass onto officials and prisoners' relatives.

To date there are 65 Saudi prisoners in Iraqi jails, while the number of Iraqi prisoners in the Kingdom's jails is recorded at 100. The face charges ranging from smuggling narcotics to illegally crossing the country's border and committing other private violations.


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