Italy/Iraq: Hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner claims Italian contractors took part in interrogations and details abuses

An article in La Repubblica newspaper reports details of an interview that is set to be shown on Italian television today (23.2.2006). Ali Shalal al Kaisi, whose pictures as he stood on a box with a hood over his head and electrodes applied to his body have become emblematic of abuses in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, claims that Italians took part in interrogations in an interview with Italian television broadcaster RaiNews 24. He claimed that two US private companies, CACI International and Tait & Court, contracted mercenaries from several countries to obtain information from prisoners. Ali Shahal al Kaisi was told by a fellow prisoner who speaks several languages that two of the interrogators spoke Italian, and added that Italians had been guilty of smuggling money and archaeological relics out of Iraq.

Al Kaisi gave details of the practices to which he was subjected in detention, noting that after fifteen days' imprisonment "they tied me up with an electric lead and put me on a cardboard box. They then told me they would electrocute me if I didn't cooperate. They gave me electric shocks for three days… One of the shocks was so strong that I bit my tongue and started bleeding. I nearly passed out. They called a doctor, who opened my mouth with his boots, saw that the blood was coming from my tongue rather than my stomach and said: 'you can continue'". He also claimed that he witnessed cases of sexual abuse against prisoners. In one case, "A female soldier questioned a religious man and asked him to have sex with her. He refused; then the woman returned, wearing a false penis and raped him". Ali Shahal, formerly a religion teacher and a mokhtar (a religious administrative authority) in Baghdad, is now in Jordan and is part of an NGO called Association of Victims of American Prisons. He planned to visit Italy, but was denied a visa. The Italian government issued a statement claiming it has no knowledge of the presence of Italians in Abu Ghraib and completely "rules out that it may have been military personnel or civil servants".

Repubblica 23.2.2006. Extract from the interview:


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