Netherlands Notes Abuse of Jailed Iraqis

By Mike Corder
Associated Press
Saturday, November 18, 2006

THE HAGUE, Nov. 17 -- Dutch military interrogators abused 15 Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to loud sounds and strong lights, the government said Friday.

The allegation, first reported by De Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper, shocked lawmakers and led one opposition leader to compare it to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.

Defense Minister Henk Kamp told reporters that military police investigated the use of these tactics by military intelligence officers in Iraq in 2003 and found that they did not overstep the law. But after a cabinet meeting, he announced there would be a new, independent inquiry.

The report by De Volkskrant, or "People's Newspaper," a left-leaning daily, was published five days before national elections, which the ruling center-right Christian Democratic Appeal is favored to win. Jan Hoedeman, the reporter who wrote the story, denied its release was timed to influence the vote.

According to the report, the interrogations were carried out by members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in the town of Samawah, on the Euphrates River about 150 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Prisoners were forced to wear darkened goggles, then exposed to bright lights when the goggles were removed, De Volkskrant reported. They also were kept awake for long periods by being doused with water or subjected to high-pitched noises.

The commander of Dutch troops in Muthanna province reported the incidents to Dutch military police, according to the report. There was an internal investigation, the newspaper said, but there were apparently no prosecutions linked to the abuse and the matter was never made public.

The Netherlands had about 1,400 troops stationed in the southern province until their withdrawal last year. There are currently 15 Dutch soldiers still serving in Baghdad, training Iraqi forces.

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