- - Tuesday, February 1, 2011

IRAQ

Watchdog: Iraq is running ‘secret’ prison

BAGHDAD | Iraqi security forces are operating a “secret detention site” in north Baghdad, and elite teams are torturing detainees at a separate facility in the capital, Human Rights Watch charged on Tuesday.

The New York-based watchdog’s claims come a week after the Los Angeles Times reported some detainees at a prison in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone had been abused and held without charge for up to two years - charges Baghdad denies.

Human Rights Watch said that Iraqi authorities in late November moved nearly 300 detainees to a secret site within a military base known as Camp Justice in northwest Baghdad, citing interviews it had conducted and classified government documents it obtained.

“The hurried transfers took place just days before an international inspection team was to examine conditions at the detainees’ previous location at Camp Honour in the Green Zone,” the watchdog group said in a statement.

“The Iraqi government should immediately close the facilities or regularize their position and make them open for inspections and visits,” it added.

ISRAEL

Premier drops choice for top general

JERUSALEM | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday nixed the designated next chief of Israel’s armed forces after receiving a legal opinion against the nomination.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office said that pending selection of a substitute for Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, who was to assume the top post on Feb. 14, he would be replaced by the current deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh.

The shake-up comes at a time of heightened Israeli jitters over power struggles in neighboring Egypt and Lebanon, and arch-foe Iran’s nuclear program.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office said he intended to nominate a new chief of staff within 60 days.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein came out earlier on Tuesday against Gen. Galant, who had been taken to court by a public watchdog group that accused him of illegally annexing state land to his private homestead in northern Israel.

IRAQ

Iran returns remains of 38 Iraqi soldiers

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi government official said Iran has handed over the remains of 38 Iraqi soldiers killed during the 1980s war between the two nations.

Iraqi Human Rights Ministry officer Hussein Eidi Hassan said Tuesday that only five of the soldiers have been identified so far and their remains have been given to their families.

DNA samples will be taken from the other remains before the soldiers are buried in a temporary grave in the southern city of Basra.

The two nations signed an agreement in October 2008 to find tens of thousands of soldiers still missing after the eight-year war.

Mr. Hassan said the remains of at least 2,139 Iraqi and 1,453 Iranian soldiers have been returned.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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