September 3, 2009 / 11:27 PM / 10 years ago

Iraq PM asks for UN inquiry into Baghdad bombings

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has formally asked the U.N. Security Council to launch an inquiry into a series of explosions that killed 95 people in Baghdad last month.

More than 1,000 people were also wounded on Aug. 19, Iraq’s bloodiest day this year, when at least six blasts struck near government ministries and other targets, weeks after U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraqi urban centers in June.

In an Aug. 30 letter forwarded to the Security Council on Thursday by the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Maliki asked for an independent international commission of inquiry to be set up.

"The scope and nature of these crimes calls for an investigation beyond Iraqi legal jurisdiction and prosecution of the perpetrators before a special international criminal tribunal," said the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

"The magnitude of these crimes demands that they be addressed immediately by the international community."

The explosions caused anger among ordinary Iraqis at the country’s security forces, with many blaming political infighting as parliamentary elections near.

Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government has blamed supporters of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party, and Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, for recent attacks, and says Baath leaders plotted the bombings from neighboring Syria.

Baghdad last week demanded that Damascus hand over two alleged masterminds of the bombing. Both countries recalled their ambassadors for consultations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called Iraq’s accusations "immoral" and demanded Baghdad provide proof to back them up.

Maliki’s letter to the United Nations did not specifically name Syria, but said, "We believe that organized attacks of such size and complexity could not have been planned, funded and executed without the support of outside forces and parties."

The attacks "rise to the level of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity punishable under international law," the Iraqi leader said.

The United States, this month’s president of the Security Council, confirmed receiving the letter which a U.S. official said would be circulated to the body’s 14 other members. The official declined to say what action the council might take.

The Iraqi request appeared similar to one that Lebanon put to the Security Council following the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. The council launched an investigation and set up a tribunal in the Netherlands, but no one has so far been indicted and inquiries continue. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)




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