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Iraqis Say Lions Used in Torture

November 15, 2005|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Two Iraqi businessmen who were arrested in Iraq in July 2003 but never charged with crimes say U.S. troops put them in a cage with lions, pretended that they were going to be executed and humiliated them during interrogations at multiple detention facilities.

"They took me behind the cage, they were screaming at me, scaring me and beating me a lot," Thahe Mohammed Sabbar said in an interview. "One of the soldiers would open the door, and two soldiers would push me in. The lions came running toward me and they pulled me out and shut the door. I completely lost consciousness."

Sabbar, 37, and Sherzad Khalid, 35, said they were beaten at U.S. facilities such as Camp Bucca and the Abu Ghraib prison. They said the abuse occurred when they were unable to tell U.S. troops where Saddam Hussein was hiding.

Spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin said the Army would try to assess the claims' validity.

The two Iraqis are in the United States this week to talk about a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First filed on their behalf against Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The suit, filed in March, details alleged sexual abuse, mock executions, water and food deprivation, electric shock and other torture used on eight detainees, including Sabbar and Khalid. It does not mention lions. Hussein's eldest son, Uday, was known to have kept lions at the presidential palace, which was taken over by U.S. troops.

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