BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) -- The Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdad’s outskirts, site of a notorious prisoner abuse scandal, is closed because of fears it could be overrun by Sunni insurgents, the Iraq government said Tuesday.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that 2,400 inmates were moved to other high-security prisons, noting that Abu Ghraib's location -- on the edge of insurgent-controlled areas -- had become a “hot zone.”
The prison has a long history of abuse, under Saddam Hussein, during the occupation of Iraq by U.S. troops, and, human rights advocates say, under the present leadership. Critics accuse Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki with filling prisons, including Abu Ghraib, with young Sunni men -- many, advocates claim, are innocent of insurgency.
“This place should be a museum of torture, for what happened under Saddam, the Americans and Maliki,” an unidentified former inmate said.
Saddam Hussein emptied the prison in 2002 with the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2004, it was revealed U.S. soldiers tortured detainees there, reinforcing opposition toward the United States’ actions in Iraq.
It is unclear if Abu Ghraib has been permanently closed, or if prisoners will return if the Sunni uprising is suppressed.
[New York Times]