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Iraq frees first 600 detainees after PM announces reconciliation bid

[JURIST] Iraqi officials on Wednesday released nearly 600 detainees who had been in Iraqi and US custody – the first of 2,500 detainees slated to be released under the order [JURIST report] of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki [BBC profile]. In the interest of national reconciliation, Maliki said Tuesday that detainees without clear evidence against them and without Iraqi "blood on their hands" would be released. Saddam Hussein loyalists and terrorists are also excluded.

The move is seen as an attempt by the hardline Shiite prime minister to appease the Sunni minority, which is largely responsible for the insurgency against the Iraqi government. Maliki made releasing detainees who were detained mistakenly or without sufficient evidence a priority when he began his term in May [JURIST report]. The US military and Iraqi officials have detained an estimated 28,000 people. Most, like Hussein, are Sunnis. Reuters has more.

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