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BAQOUBA, Iraq — Recently reinforced rules on detainees have made it difficult to prosecute suspects, according to Iraqi army commanders in this area.

According to Iraqi law, a suspect can only be held for 24 hours. When that time ends and the suspect has not confessed, had two witnesses against him or was not found on a wanted list, the suspect goes free.

"It’s not right," said an Iraqi army lieutenant colonel, who commands the 1st Battalion of 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division. "One day is not enough. We need at least a week."

The officer, who didn’t give his name out of fear of retribution, said his unit detained 14 suspects last week. Five of them had to be released because there were no witnesses for them.

"We were convinced that all these guys were al-Qaida," he said.

U.S. Army Capt. Bryan Noel, the operational law officer for 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, said that the human rights law was around long before U.S. forces arrived. But security issues and a lack of judges affected the country’s practice of law.

"Their ability to facilitate that is coming around," Noel said of Diyala’s legal system. "There are still some issues."

The Iraqi lieutenant colonel remembers detaining one alleged al-Qaida fighter who confessed to crimes in just two days. He shook his head at the fact that the insurgent would have been freed now.

"We have to give the detainee enough time to admit," he said.

The 1st Brigade’s 3rd Battalion was able to detain three suspects on the unit’s wanted list on Saturday.

"If we don’t have his name on the wanted list, it’s difficult to prosecute," said Iraqi Lt. Col. Samir, commander of 3rd battalion. "But if we find him on the list we don’t need witnesses."


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