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Arrest of Shiite cleric pits ex-head of Iraq Hezbollah against interior ministry

Arrest of Shiite cleric pits ex-head of Iraq Hezbollah against interior ministry

2019/04/17 | 16:05

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Iraqi Ministry of Interior will take legal action against the former leader of Iraq Hezbollah after he publicly threatened to kill an interior ministry officer for arresting a Shiite cleric entering Basra from Iran.



In a video that began circulating online starting on Sunday, an officer in the Department of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances branch in Basra is seen searching the Shiite cleric who believed to be Iranian asking what he has brought into Iraq, while others film the scene.



In the video, the officer finds 10 Kuwaiti dinars ($33) and then claims that the currency is used to buy drugs, mainly “red mercury,” an apparent reference to Mercurous chloride (mercury salts). The officer then asks the cleric to remove his turban because he should only be wearing it as a sign of respect to the Prophet Mohammed.



Some chemical salts are known to create a euphoric high. Mercurous chloride also has long been used to treat syphilis.



The video showing the cleric being detained has caused uproar among much of the Iraqi public. The interior ministry said in a statement on Monday that it has formed an investigative committee. The ministry added it rejected the slandering of suspects by recording them.

The ministry took just six hours to issue another statement. It said the investigative committee had completed its work.

Interior ministry instructs Basra branch to investigate leaking of video



Iraqi's Inspector General in the interior ministry Jamal al-Assadi on Monday gave directions its branch in Basra to initiate yet another investigation into leaking of the video of the cleric being detained. For further investigations, the committee summoned the head of the arresting security unit (only identified by the first letters of his name A. Sh. S), the officer who carried out the arrest, and the arrested individual. The committee then presented a "detailed report" of leaking the video.

The head of the anti-drug unit in Basra and its members claimed, in their statements to the investigative committee, that the arrest was legal and had been based on information obtained from confessions of a previously arrested gang."The arresting was done in a fundamentally legal way and it was based on information and confessions of those arrested before", read their statement."Consequently, an order was issued for suspending all the members of the arresting unit, for them to be brought to the Ministry of Interior, for a ministerial investigative council — with the participation of the office of inspector general — to be formed to reveal the circumstances of the case, and for those involved to be brought to court," added the statement.



Ex-Iraq Hezbollah leader threatens interior ministry officers

However a Shiite cleric named Wathiq al-Batat, formerly the secretary-general of Hezbollah Iraq and currently the head of the “Jaysh al-Mukhtar” militia, made threats in a video against the officers, saying they would "gouge their eyes out" to make an example of them. 

The officer who carried out the arrest had no right to "humiliate or remove the turban" of the cleric when he hadn’t been proven guilty, added Batat.The cleric has been arrested for a "myth" that is called the ‘red mercury,’ claimed Batat."By Allah Almighty and the Honorable Prophet, we will gouge your eyes out of your skull. By Allah, the Great and Almighty, we will make your head an ash tray for cigarettes," the Batat threatened — the "disrespect" of the turban is disrespect to the Prophet, the Imam, the Marja and all turbans."We will make an example of you for all those who listen, you and those who sent you, you and those who supported you, and you and those who permitted your action," the cleric said.If Basra "doesn't have men", then there are "Mujahideen” from other Iraqi cities and in Islamic Shiite world to make an example of the officer, he added, calling him "a worthless, contemptuous, immoral, backstabber, who is sly and a coward.”



Tribe of unit's commander promises to defend its tribesmanOn Tuesday, Baghdad Today news agency published a video of the tribe of the Iraqi major forming a human shield in front of his house.“We as the al-Hamoudi tribe — all of us — strongly condemn the statements that Mr. Wathiq al-Batat made,” one tribesman says.They add they are “with the law” not “against the law, and the security forces have to protect their members.



Interior ministry calls for investigation into 'Daesh' like cleric's threatsThe Iraqi Ministry of Interior in a statement on Tuesday responded to the ex-Hezbollah official, likening his "barbaric and vengeful language" to the "logic of Daesh" and overstepping civilized speech.

"The Ministry of Interior has instructed the legal directorate to undertake all legal measures against the individual Wathiq al-Batat, and indeed directions to file a lawsuit in the court has been given," the statement added.The charges by the ministry include threats which “harm the rule of law in the country, encourage chaos and inciting violence.”The ministry will keep supporting and defending its officers who carry out their "constitutional duties" for preserving stability and fighting crime, and they will hold any member accountable for violating laws and rules of conduct.The ministry called on the Marja to keep supporting the security apparatus because they have been of great help, and requested for the religious authority to issue a statement on the cleric’s comments.

  



Tribal disputes are common in Iraq. State control over armed militia groups is an ongoing concern which crosses sectarian and ethnic lines. The judiciary is weak in the country and feuds are often solved through tribal negotiations. Weapons proliferation due to decades of cycles of violence, most recently the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), is also a concern for state security apparatus. 



























































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