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U.S. military hands over last internment facility to Iraqis

07-16-2010 15:18 BJT

BAGHDAD, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military handed over control of its last detention center in Iraq on Thursday to Iraqi authorities after transferring hundreds of prisoners, including some top officials of Saddam Hussein's government, to Iraqis.

In a ceremony held in the detention center of Camp Cropper in west of Baghdad, Major General Jerry Cannon, head of the U.S. detention facility, said that the detention is now holding 1,500 detainees.

"This is the first day of a new era, in which all Iraqis in the criminal justice system are able to start their role in providing safety and security for the Iraqi people," Cannon told the ceremony.

However, despite the handover of Camp Cropper, Cannon said that the U.S. army will keep 200 detainees, including eight of Saddam's aides, in the U.S. custody at a separate part of the facility called Compound 5.

Earlier, an Iraqi official told Xinhua that during the past three days, the U.S. army handed over dozens of detainees, including Saddam Hussein's ex-deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz and some other top aides.

"They have been transferred to a prison run by the Iraqi Ministry of Justice and they will be treated according to the Iraqi law," the official added, without saying to which prison the prisoners were transferred.

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