British man's two-and-a-half-year plight in detention in Iraq denounced as 'politically-motivated'
Ramze Shihab Amhed has already had eight trials and says he was tortured while in secret detention
Amnesty International is calling for the release of a British man who has been detained in Iraq for nearly two-and-a-half years, denouncing new attempts to put him on trial as “politically-motivated”.
Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a 69-year-old dual Iraqi-UK national who has lived in the UK since 2002, is detained in Baghdad with the Iraqi authorities saying they are investigating his alleged involvement in terrorist offences.
However, Mr Ahmed has already been through eight trials and acquitted in each one. Most recently, on 10 May, he was found not guilty over alleged terrorist offences, but immediately told that he must remain in detention while further allegations are investigated. Amnesty believes that he has been in custody long enough for investigations into further charges to have been completed.
The Iraqi government has recently ordered the arrest of a number of Arab Sunnis in the country, including officials, and conducted trials against ex-army officers. The circumstances surrounding the continuous detention of Mr Ahmed, an ex-army officer from the Arab Sunni community, suggests his prosecution and detention may be politically-motivated.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“This is looking more and more like a politically-motivated effort to persecute Ramze, a Sunni and a former military man.
“The Iraqi authorities have already put Ramze through a staggering eight trials across two and half years, and have had more than enough time to investigate any alleged wrongdoing.
“Unless the prosecution can demonstrate a legitimate reason to detain Ramze, they should put an end to his ordeal and release him.
“The Iraqi authorities should allow him to return to his wife in Britain and investigate the allegation that he was tortured while held in a secret jail.”
Ramze Shihab Ahmed was originally arrested by security officials in a relative’s house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 7 December 2009. The previous month he had travelled from the UK to Iraq in an effort to secure the release of his detained son ‘Omar. However, after himself being arrested, he was held for nearly four months in a secret prison near Baghdad, during which time his whereabouts were completely unknown to his family. During this period Mr Ahmed alleges he was tortured - including with electric shocks to his genitals and suffocation by plastic bags - into making a false “confession” to terrorist offences.
Amnesty has campaigned for Mr Ahmed’s allegations of torture to be independently investigated and has urged the UK government to make representations to the Iraqi authorities on his behalf concerning this.
Mr Ahmed “reappeared” in late March 2010 when he was able to make a phone call to his wife Rabiha in London, imploring her to seek help from the UK authorities. However, partly on the basis of his coerced “confession”, he was subsequently put on trial, including on various terrorism charges.
Ramze Shihab Ahmed’s wife Rabiha al-Qassab, a 64-year-old former teaching assistant who lives in north-west London, said:
“I’m appalled at what they’re doing to Ramze. He’s an innocent man who’s already been through so much.
“Though I’ve lost a lot of faith in the Iraqi justice system, I still hope the Iraqi authorities can see that they’re holding an innocent man who has had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. Surely after eight trials they can now see that?
“UK officials have been very helpful to my husband and have offered their support, but I think the time has come for the UK government to absolutely insist on Ramze’s release.”
Note to editors:
Over 6,000 Amnesty supporters have lobbied the Foreign Secretary William Hague over the case. UK consular officials have visited Ahmed in jail in Baghdad and the Foreign Secretary has raised his case with the Iraqi Foreign Minister.
Amnesty supporters are currently lobbying the Iraqi embassy in the UK, calling for Ramze’s release if the prosecution authorities fail to show good reason to hold him longer and for an investigation into his allegations of torture (see: http://amn.st/KNliHB ).