Iraq to reopen Abu Ghraib prison, include museum

BAGHDAD Wed Sep 3, 2008 9:42am EDT

A bird sits on a barbered wire fence at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, Iraq June 23, 2006. REUTERS/Wathiq Khuzaie/Pool

A bird sits on a barbered wire fence at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, Iraq June 23, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Wathiq Khuzaie/Pool

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq plans to renovate and reopen Abu Ghraib prison, the notorious site of executions and torture under Saddam Hussein and later of a U.S. prisoner abuse scandal.

The sprawling prison on Baghdad's western outskirts, which has not been used as a prison since 2006, will also feature a museum of crimes committed under former leader Saddam Hussein, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Wednesday.

"Iraq's cabinet has agreed to the Defence Ministry's proposal ... to renovate Abu Ghraib prison ... with the reservation of part of the prison as a museum of crimes of the previous regime," Dabbagh said in a statement.

Abu Ghraib was a byword for the brutality of Saddam Hussein's reign, and in 2004 the prison gained further notoriety when photos emerged of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees.

Pictures showing naked prisoners forced into sexually humiliating poses or cowering in front of snarling dogs unleashed a wave of global condemnation.

No timescale was given for the prison's renovation and eventual reopening.

It was also unclear whether the museum would also document prisoner abuse by U.S. forces. Dabbagh's office was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Tony Austin)

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