US frees 350 Iraq detainees
( Breakingnews Ireland) -The US military released about 350 detainees today as part of a goodwill gesture marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
More than 25,000 Iraqis remain in custody, most in a legal limbo where they are never charged or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.
Of those who receive a proper trial, about 50% will be acquitted, the military says.
Iraq's Shiite vice president Adel Abdul- Mahdi , who attended today's ceremony, said he believed "the great majority" of detainees released today were innocent of any crime.
He said: "Everyone should cooperate to empty all detention centres ... of anyone who did no wrong or anyone who was unjustly detained.
"We all must cooperate so only those left in prisons are criminals and those who actually deserve punishment."
Among the men released today, most were between the ages of 35 and 40, with the average stay about a year.
Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha , the leader of a group of Sunni tribes that have turned against al Qaida in Iraq, also attended.
The movement's founder and Abu Risha's brother, Sheik Abdul- Sattar Abu Risha , was killed in a bombing last month.
Abu Risha assured the detainees that the western province is now safe.
"Only small criminal gangs are left and will be destroyed," he said.
"Fraternity is shared among the provinces. We can say that we have passed the crisis and we will continue efforts to release your detained brothers."
The military said today's releases raised the number of detainees freed this year during Ramadan to about 1,425.