- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

BAGHDAD — A graphic video to be broadcast today shows Saddam Hussein’s half brother, ousted Interior Minister Watban Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, exhorting his police officers as they beat and torture prisoners.

“Go on, go on,” Hasan tells his khaki-clad ministry police as they repeatedly slash prisoners with sticks, electric cables and metal bars at a Baghdad detention center. The police kick the prisoners again and again.

At one point, one of Hasan’s own security guards is beaten with wooden poles, sticks and cables after pleading for mercy.

Hasan was captured April 13 as he apparently attempted to flee to Syria and is being held in a coalition prison for “high-value detainees.”

A Ba’ath Party official who has the same mother as Saddam and is one of Saddam’s three half brothers, Hasan was the five of spades in the deck of 55 cards distributed to coalition soldiers in the search for the most-wanted Iraqi officials.

A reporter for The Washington Times has seen the video pictures in their entirety. Excerpts will be shown today by the Al Arabiya satellite television channel, which obtained them from an undisclosed Iraqi source.

The gruesome pictures, with testimony by one of the beaten prisoners, are expected to be of value in building a criminal prosecution against Hasan.

The U.S.-led coalition or its successor will seek to prove that the interior minister ran a systematic reign of terror, coalition legal experts said.

The video shows prisoners held in a small fenced courtyard. They at first move from side to side as blows rain down.

Then, as their bodies and heads become increasingly bloodied and their flesh torn, most topple to the ground and curl up in a fetal position.

As some try to stagger to their feet when blows are being inflicted on other prisoners, the police officers return, knocking them down again until many lie helplessly on their backs, motionless and apparently unconscious.

Each of two VHS tapes, in perfect color, runs continuously for about an hour. They appear to have been recorded professionally.

At one point, the interior minister becomes angry that a car apparently belonging to Uday Hussein, elder son of Saddam, gets precedence over his own vehicle in entering a security area.

One of two guards at the gate begs forgiveness from Hasan, pleading: “Sir, I did not realize that you were with Mr. Uday. … I didn’t realize. Please, please, in the name of Saddam Hussein, please.”

The guard, continuing wherever possible with his appeals, is stripped of his epaulet, then his shirt and his beret, and the beatings begin — with wooden poles, sticks and cables.

After about 15 minutes, as he lies prone, the attention of the police officers and the cameraman switches to another victim.

The officers regularly turn from their victims toward some authority figure off camera, presumably the interior minister, then quickly resume the torture.

One of the men whose assault was filmed took the Al Arabiya satellite television team back to where beatings had occurred.

The man, who gave his name as Ali, said, “We were beaten everyday like this for a month.”

Typical charges involved buying stolen or unregistered goods, or were related to quarrels with neighbors or their wives.

Police, Ali said, would show films of the beatings to Hasan, and if he thought a prisoner had escaped too lightly, that man would be pulled out of his crowded cell and beaten again.

Hasan had a reputation for brutality, but this is the first time such actions have been displayed publicly on video.

Documents showing the regime’s illegal trading activities, coupled with the increasing evidence of state-organized mass killings and widespread repression, are expected to form the basis for trials.

The likelihood is that Saddam’s former officials will be arraigned only when a new constitution is approved and an Iraqi-led government is in place.

Coalition officials say it’s important to provide the basis for such trials through the painstaking collection of evidence.

They say it will help solidify support for a new Iraqi government by exposing the previous rulers as corrupt and vicious criminals rather than as tough patriots.

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