Ex-PM: Abuse as bad as Saddam era
Allawi: "These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam."
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LONDON, England -- Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein if not worse, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has said.
"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam's time and worse," Allawi said in an interview published in Britain on Sunday.
"It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told The Observer newspaper. "People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things."
Allawi's comments come as Hussein's trial is set to resume Monday in Baghdad. Hussein's lawyers are expected to seek another delay in the proceedings. (Full story)
The remarks also follow the discovery of an Iraqi government facility holding 170 prisoners, including some showing signs of torture. (Full story)
"We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi, who was Iraq's first prime minister of the post-Saddam Hussein era.
Allawi, a secular Shiite and former Baathist, is standing in parliamentary elections scheduled for December 15. He failed to win January's election, which brought current Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, an Islamist Shiite, to power.
"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations," Allawi said. "We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.
"The Ministry of the Interior is at the heart of the matter," Allawi said. "I am not blaming the minister himself, but the rank and file are behind the secret dungeons and some of the executions that are taking place."
Allawi warned that if no action was taken, "the disease infecting (the ministry) will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government."
In a news conference this month, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr defended the prison facility, saying it held "the most criminal terrorists" and that "nobody was beheaded or killed."
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