AMMAN, Jordan, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A report issued Thursday by Human Rights Watch says U.S. forces bungled the preservation of evidence against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The group's 41-page report claims many government documents and other evidence pertaining to mass graves were "lost or seriously tainted" during and after last year's invasion.
In the past year and a half, more than 250 mass graves have been identified, some of which contain the remains of thousands of victims of Saddam's rule. But the group said U.S.-led coalition forces failed to prevent people from freely looting thousands of documents and failed to keep relatives of "disappeared" persons from digging up remains found in some of the gravesites.
"Given what's at stake here, the extent of this negligence is alarming," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "U.S. and Iraqi authorities were aware that these documents and remains would be crucial to the prosecution of Saddam Hussein and other former officials, but they did little to safeguard them."