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MOI: Obaidi Investigation “Difficulties"
Interior Ministry Tries to Deflect Attention From Itself
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/15/2009 7:01 PM ET
BAGHDAD – Although Interior Ministry officials have stated that Friday’s assassination of Tawafoq leader Harith al-Obaidi “bears the fingerprints of al-Qaeda”, many Iraqis feel that there is hardly a more vague statement that could be made on such a sensitive matter. Al-Obaidi was shot at point blank range multiple times, and then the assailant fled, setting off a grenade. Some accounts have him throwing the grenade into a crowd at al-Shawaf Mosque in Baghdad’s Yarmouk neighborhood, some say he set the grenade off underneath himself, and some say both.

Al-Obaidi was a leading member of parliament’s human rights commission, and had announced plans to question key officials in government ministries about torture and mistreatment of detainees, foremost among them, from the Interior Ministry, who is investigating the killing. Suspicians are high enough that the ministry’s Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf felt the need to specify in a statement to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Monday that that the 9mm handgun used in the killing was not the kind used by Iraq’s security forces. He went further, to say, “The 9mm Glock pistol is used all over Iraq. The weapon that was used in the assassination was a 9mm revolver.”

The difficulties in the investigation included, according to Khalaf, “The culprit’s corpse was sent to the morgue for autopsy and further investigation, especially since the culprit’s body was damaged. The body was damaged because the security forces shot the culprit while he was attempting to escape. He also detonated a grenade which caused his body and weapon to be damaged.”

A source within the Interior Ministry reported on Monday that a ministry employee was arrested this week on suspicion of exactly the kind of detainee torture al-Obaidi has been calling attention to, and has given the names of several additional ministry employees involved in instances of the same.

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