Iraqi police officer held without charge is freed

Amnesty International has welcomed the release of a former police officer detained without charge in Iraq for over two years because he was suspected of having links to armed groups.

Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib was freed from a police station in Tikrit, in the north of Iraq on 30 December, more than a month after an order for his release had been issued.

Speaking to Amnesty International on Wednesday, Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib confirmed his release without charge and said that he had not been tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held at the police station in Tikrit in recent weeks.

“While Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib’s release is welcome news, it is long overdue,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“After more than two years in detention without facing any charge or trial, it was high time that he was freed and reunited with his family.”

Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib worked as a police officer in the village of ‘Uwaynat, near Tikrit, at the time of his arrest by US forces in July 2008. He was suspected of collaborating with armed groups opposed to the Iraqi government and the presence of US forces in Iraq.

He was detained by US forces until March 2010, when Camp Taji, the prison in which he was held, and its inmates were transferred to the control of the Iraqi government.

Before this, the US forces recommended to the Iraqi authorities that he should be released. However, he was detained by the Iraqi authorities until November 2010, when he was transferred from Camp Taji to a police station in Tikrit.

It appears that Qusay’s transfer to the police station was in preparation for his release, but he was held there for several weeks.

Initially, it was said that the Anti-Terrorism Directorate in Najaf was looking for an individual of the same name but his family were able to obtain a certificate stating that Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib was not the man wanted by the Directorate.

Amnesty International was concerned that he was at risk of torture or other ill-treatment while detained in the police station, and that those holding him might have been doing so in order to obtain a ransom.

Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib’s release comes after Amnesty International gave particular attention to his case (as representative of many similar cases of prolonged detention without charge or trial in Iraq) in its campaign against such abuses which was launched in September 2010.

Speaking on Wednesday, Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib thanked Amnesty International for campaigning on his behalf and said that he plans to undertake training at a police academy in Baghdad and return to his former role as a police officer.