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22 Feb, 2009 00:02

Notorious prison in Iraq turned into rehabilitation centre

The Abu Ghraib detention centre notorious for images of U.S. soldiers humiliating inmates has been re-opened. It has been handed over to the Iraqis and renamed Baghdad Central Prison.

The centre became a symbol of the American abuse of prisoners after shocking photos, showing sexually explicit photos of its inmates, were released in 2004.

The Iraqi government has now turned it into a rehabilitation center with recreational areas including a sewing room, a library, a computer room and exercise facilities.

Some of the victims, however, insist the prison should be closed or turned into a museum for Iraqi's suffering.
The Iraqi government, however, disagrees.

“It’s not so easy for us to waste a state resource,” Safa al-Safi, a Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and a confidant of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was quoted by the New York Times as saying. “Yes, this prison has a bad reputation, but this is not an excuse in itself to demolish it, given that we need it.”

He added that turning the prison into rehabilitation center should help to remove the stigma from it.

The abuse scandal was said to have fuelled support for the insurgency in the country and came as one of the biggest setbacks for the U.S policy in Iraq.