Most bodies in Baghdad morgue show signs of torture, execution: UN rights official

[JURIST] The former head of the Human Rights Office [official website] at the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq [official website] has told the BBC that extra-judicial killings and torture have become "endemic" in Iraq, and that up to 75% of bodies in the Baghdad morgue show signs of torture or execution. John Pace, a diplomat from Malta, said that most of the killings were connected to Shiite militias directed by Bayan Jabr, a prominent member of the the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [FAS backgrounder].

Pace also said that staff at the Baghdad mortuary face regular threats aimed at stopping autopsies and suppressing evidence, and that morgue director Faik Amin Bakir had fled the country after submitting a report identifying more than 7,000 killings caused by death squads, some of which operate within the Iraqi police. BBC News has more. The Guardian has additional coverage. In an interview with the Times of Malta last week, Pace said the US was "aware" of torture taking place in Iraq prisons, estimated that in December 400 of 780 bodies brought into the Baghdad morgue had gunshot wounds or wounds caused by electric drills, and said that non-existence of law and order has left Iraqi society without any protection.

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