In May 2013, Amnesty International (AI) contacted CPT and asked whether the team in Suleimani would be willing to meet with a lawyer involved in a case that AI covered in their report. The lawyer, Kak Umer told CPT that the former General Director of the Asaish (Iraqi Kurdistan intelligence and security forces) Haqim Qader arrested his brother Hussein Hama Ali Tawfiq, known as Hajji Hussein, and allegedly ill-treated him in prison demanding that Hajji Hussein signs confessions against other people. Hajji refused and repeatedly suffered severe beatings and threats.(*) After that, he was released. Hajji Hussein left Kurdistan to go to Germany for treatment to heal his injuries.
While Hajji Hussein was in Germany, CPT met with others involved in the case, including another international organization. CPT learned that this case is connected to a larger case. CPT met with another person who was also allegedly mistreated. The team also met with Mrs. Sakar, the wife of a former Suleimani mayor who died in prison in unclear circumstances.
While Hajji Hussein was out of the country, the case was appealed. Hussein voluntarily decided to come back and seek a just resolution through the justice system. Upon return, he was re-arrested.
Kak Umer asked CPT if the team would visit his brother in prison. On September 29, three CPT members went to Kani Goma prison with Kak Umer and two other lawyers. Hajji told CPT that he hoped his case could be brought to a close the following day, September 30, when a hearing was scheduled in court, and that his charges would finally be dropped. However, he expressed fear that something could happen on the way to the court in the morning and that he might not be able to reach the court alive. CPT spoke with the director of the prison before leaving and informed him that internationals will continue observing and documenting the case.
At court the next morning, CPTers were very eager to see Hajji, hoping that he would arrive well. CPTers saw several other cases and felt relieved when Hajji Hussein arrived. Hajji Hussein described the ill-treatment he received in prison, and told the judges of the false confessions. CPT noted that his file was several inches thick, and the lawyer told CPT that the judges also had the medical records from Germany. A prosecutor called the judges attention to alleged inconsistency in Hussein's testimony and confession. However, Hussein claimed he did not sign them. The judges decided once again to postpone the case, supposedly for further investigation.
Hajji Hussein looked shocked, disappointed and fearful as he was leaving the courtroom. After his revealing testimony, Hajji Hussein told CPT that he fears for his safety and his uncertain future. Kak Umer asked CPT for renewed efforts and support for his brother.
CPT visited Haji Hussein in prison again on October 6. This time he looked thinner and even more worried than before. He told CPT that the prison guards have begun to treat him differently, and deny him things that other prisoners are allowed. He says he is experiencing psychological pressure.
The next hearing was originally scheduled to take place on October 13. However, on October 8, Hajji's lawyers informed the team that the case may be transferred to a court in Erbil. If this happens, it would take several months for the court to reopen the case, during which time Hajji Hussein would need to stay in prison.
CPT asks for the release of Hajji Hussein, and a safe return to his family. CPT asks for the courts to seriously consider the record of alleged ill-treatment suffered by Hajji Hussein, clearly an illegal act perpetrated by the state actors. CPT also asks the KRG authorities for a thorough investigation of the case and the treatment Hajji Hussein received in prison, and that the responsible people be brought to justice according to the laws of the land.
(*) more detailed information about Hajji's ill-treatment while in prison can be found in the Amnesty International report of 11 March 2013 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE14/001/2013/en page 24-25.