Monday, May 24, 2004

The Guardian reports on an Iraqi who was beaten to death in prison, probably because he wouldn't get interrogators off his back by making up stories about massive buried stockpiles of WMDs:

...The US military claimed ... that Dr [Mohammed Munim al-] Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor arrested after US tanks encircled his villa, had died of "brainstem compression".

Dr Izmerly's sudden death after 10 months in American custody left his family stunned, not least because three weeks earlier they had visited him in the US prison at Baghdad airport. His 23-year-old daughter, Rana, recalled that he had seemed in "good health".

The family commissioned an independent Iraqi autopsy. Its conclusion was unambiguous: Dr Izmerly had died because of a "sudden hit to the back of his head", Faik Amin Baker, the director of Baghdad hospital's forensic department, certified.

The cause of death was blunt trauma. It was uncertain exactly how he died, but someone had hit him from behind, possibly with a bar or a pistol, Dr Baker confirmed yesterday....

He died sometime between January 11 and February 19, 2004.

Think the autopsy will help the family get justice in "self-governing" Iraq?

...The family presented its autopsy findings to an Iraqi judge. "He told us, 'You can't do anything to the coalition. What happened is history,'" Ashraf said.

We can argue till we're hoarse about the likelihood that torture will generate useful, accurate intelligence, and about the morality of torturing people to get such intelligence. But there's no disputing the fact that you can't learn very much from someone you've beaten to death.

(Oh, and the family insists he was not a Saddam crony -- just a scientist who had to play ball with the Mukhabarat if he wanted permission to attend international conferences.)

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