[JURIST] Iraq's Interior Ministry Thursday announced an investigation into claims that a police death squad has been operating in Iraq, either working for, or claiming to work for the ministry itself. The US military says it recently detained 22 men in police uniforms [Chicago Tribune report] who were about to kill a Sunni man. Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, the US officer in charge of civilian Iraqi police training teams, said the men were highway patrol officers. The announcement follows a statement Wednesday by Iraqi human rights minister Nermine Othman that over 100 Iraqis were tortured in Interior Ministry buildings last year [AP report]. In December the rights ministry helped uncover an Interior Ministry facility [JURIST report] containing hundreds of prisoners in which many showed signs of abuse.
Allegations of torture and death squads orchestrated by the Shiite-dominate Interior Ministry have surfaced in the past and were denied [JURIST report]. Human Rights minister Othman said squads may be getting help from the inside: "I think there are many people inside the Interior Ministry involved with these deaths or giving the uniforms of colleagues to criminals. In November, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said that abuses under the new government were as bad as they had been under the Saddam Hussein regime [JURIST report]. AP has more. Othman expects prosecutions [AP report] of some low-level interior and justice ministry employees.