Iraq must ensure release of police officer detained without charge

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to free a police officer, initially detained because he was suspected of having links to armed groups, who has been held for over a month after an order for his release was made.Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib has been held for over two years apparently on suspicion of collaborating with armed groups opposed to the Iraqi government and the presence of US forces in Iraq although no charges have ever been brought against him. An order for his release was issued in November but he is still being held at a police station in Tikrit, where he is at risk of torture. It appears that those detaining him may be seeking to extract some sort of ransom payment from the family of Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib before releasing him. “Iraq’s new government must now intervene and ensure that the order for the release of Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib is implemented without further delay and not made subject to the payment of a ransom or other illegal obstruction,” 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 is high time that Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib is released 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. They reportedly suspected him of having links to armed groups involved in violent attacks but never brought any charges against him. He was still held at Camp Taji when US forces handed over control of that prison to the Iraqi government on 31 March 2010. A month earlier, the US authorities had recommended his release. In mid-November, the Iraqi authorities at last ordered the release of Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib. He was transferred to al-Rusafa prison for one day, then on to the police station where he formerly worked, apparently in preparation for his imminent release. Instead, the father of two has continued to be detained there. Initially, the reason given for his continued detention was that the Anti-Terrorism bureau in Najaf was looking for an individual of the same name. However, his family were able to obtain a certificate stating that Qusay ‘Abdel-Razaq Zabib is not the man wanted by the bureau. His family have since been told repeatedly that he is to be released but he remains in custody.