Friday, February 23, 2007

Son of al-Hakim freed, but 'bodyguards' still in custody; U.S. apologizes for arrest

Amar al-Hakim

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. troops detained the son of Iraq's most powerful Shiite politician Friday as he returned to the country from Iran, keeping him in custody for nearly 12 hours before releasing him, Shiite officials said. The U.S. ambassador apologized for the arrest.

Amar al-Hakim, son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, was taken into custody at a crossing point and was transferred to a U.S. facility in Kut, according to the elder al-Hakim's secretary, Jamal al-Sagheer...

Al-Sagheer said the younger al-Hakim's security guards were also detained at the Zirbatyah crossing point. Later, al-Sagheer said Amar al-Hakim was freed about 8 p.m., although his bodyguards remained in custody.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the arrest was being investigated but stressed that Washington did not mean any disrespect to al-Hakim or his family.

"I am sorry about the arrest," he said. "We don't know the circumstances of the arrest and we are investigating ... but he is being released."

Read the rest at the Guardian

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