A prominent Sunni politician rallied Tuesday behind a lawmaker accused of running a private terror cell and demanded full probes into Shiites and others parliament members suspected of links to violence, AP reported.
Saleh al-Mutlaq, who leads a Sunni bloc, has used the allegations against one of his former political allies to press Sunni claims that the Shiite-led government is not doing enough to investigate Shiite abuses committed during the height of Iraq's sectarian bloodshed.
"We demand that all files against other lawmakers be opened and investigated by a special parliament committee that is free from government pressures," he told a news conference.
A number of Sunni and Shiite current and former parliament members have been accused of ties of militant groups or indirectly implicated in sectarian violence.
Among them is Sunni lawmaker Mishaan al-Jibouri, who fled Iraq after being indicted in 2006 for allegedly funneling embezzled money to insurgents, and Bahaa al-Araji, a Shiite deputy who has been suspected of ties to outlaw militias.
Al-Mutlaq's remarks came a day after the accused lawmaker, Mohammed al-Dayni, claimed to be the victim of a government campaign to silence its critics.
Al-Dayni has frequently spoken out about alleged rights abuses of Sunni prisoners and claims Iran has undue influence over Iraq's Shiite political leaders.
Videotaped confessions by two of al-Dayni's former bodyguards - one of them his nephew - were released last week implicating him as the ringleader of a gang blamed for a string of attacks and abuses, including mortar strikes on Baghdad's Green Zone and a 2007 suicide bombing in the parliament cafeteria that killed one person.
Al-Dayni remains free under parliamentary immunity from prosecution. It was not clear when the parliament would take a vote on whether to strip him of the protection, a move that would clear way for legal proceedings.
Al-Dayni was forced out of al-Mutlaq's bloc last year when his government criticism became too politically sensitive.
But al-Mutlaq said Tuesday he would stand behind the lawmaker until a full-scale probe is launched into the sectarian reprisals that included Sunni-backed insurgents and Shiite militias.
"Let's begin a real effort to disclose information about those involved in killings and sectarian displacement," said al-Mutlaq. "Then we all will discover that there are leaders inside the political process who took part in these events."
On Monday, Iraq's Interior Ministry announced the arrest of a Shiite police gang accused of killing the Sunni vice president's sister in 2006 as part of a string of kidnappings and slayings.
Spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said the 12 people arrested were former employees of the ministry. The Interior Ministry has been accused of past infiltration by Shiite militias that carried out some of the worst sectarian violence.
The sister of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Maysoun al-Hashemi, died in a hail of gunfire on April 27, 2006 as she left her home in Baghdad.
Abdul-Karim al-Samarraie, a member of al-Hashemi's Iraqi Islamic Party, welcomed the arrests.
"It is a good thing that the Interior Ministry succeeded in arresting Maysoun al-Hashemi's killers ... although it took too long to find them," he said.