An Iraqi judge has ruled that there is enough evidence to try two former Health Ministry officials, both Shiites, in the killing and kidnapping of hundreds of Sunnis, many of them snatched from hospitals by militias, according to American officials who are advising the Iraqi judicial system.
The case, which was referred last week to a three-man tribunal in Baghdad, is the first in which an Iraqi magistrate has recommended that such high-ranking Shiites be tried for sectarian violence. But any trial could still be derailed by the Health Ministry, making the case an important test of the government’s will to administer justice on a nonsectarian basis.
The Iraqi investigation has confirmed long-standing Sunni fears that hospitals had been opened up as a hunting ground for Shiite militias intent on spreading fear among Sunnis and driving them out of the capital. Even before the case, Baghdad residents told of death threats against doctors who would treat Sunnis, of intravenous lines ripped from patients’ arms as they were carried away, and of relatives of hospitalized Sunnis who were killed when they came to visit. [complete article]