[b]By LEE KEATH
Associated Press Writer

May 9, 2004, 3:13 PM EDT[/b]


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The scandal over abuse at Abu Ghraib is bringing out the stories, from people fearing for imprisoned relatives, from former detainees who claim mistreatment -- and from possible frauds looking to exploit the uproar.

At a press conference by human rights groups in Baghdad on Sunday, numerous former prisoners came forward to tell of abuse including beatings by soldiers and sleep deprivation. The accounts resembled those found by U.S. investigators at the notorious prison.


Fallujah native Abdul-Qader Abdul-Rahman al-Ani, his left elbow wrapped in bandages, his right forearm bound in a cast, recounted how he was beaten by soldiers who picked him up last month. The soldiers tied him and two others arrested with him to a tree and sodomized them one after the other, he told journalists.

"I ask President Bush," he said. "Does he agree with this?"

As Ani, 47, repeated his story, he was interrupted by Jabber al-Okaili, a member of one of the human rights groups that organized the gathering. "He's lying," al-Okaili shouted. "He's a liar!"

Al-Ani was rushed to an office, where al-Okaili and others unwound the bandage on his left arm and found the elbow unscarred and healthy. They cut off half of the cast on his forearm, even as al-Ani insisted, "By God, it's true, everything I say is true."

"All his papers were forged," al-Okaili, of the Free Iraq Institute, said after al-Ani left the building. "Who knows why he did this. Maybe he was paid by former members of Saddam Hussein's regime."

"There are people who try to exploit the situation," said Adel al-Allami, of the Human Rights Organization of Iraq. "We have to be very careful and very precise in our facts. This is a very sensitive issue."

Others at the gathering brought piles of documents to prove their cases: plastic identification bands giving the dates of their imprisonment, certification of their release, and photos of bruises and scars they said they received at the hands of Americans.

One man, Khayrullah al-Kinzawi, showed pictures of the sores on his hands he said he suffered while jailed last year, soon after the American invasion. "They tied my hands behind my back, then dragged me across the dirt. It tore my hands to pieces," said al-Kinzawi, a 65-year-old shop owner from the southern city of Nasiriyah.

For relatives of prisoners, the photos of Iraqis being stripped and humiliated by American guards heightened their fears that their loved ones were being abused.

"When I hear things like this, I can't help but be afraid," said Basma Qassem, 33, whose husband Mahdi Jabbar Ahmad was arrested from their home in Baghdad's Azimiyah neighborhood three months ago. "I've been to Abu Ghraib seven times and they tell me I can't see him. Every time they tell me to come back again."

Sabriya Karim, 57, said she was searching for a son arrested in July and unheard from since. Raad Hussein Mandil was wounded when U.S. troops opened fire during a raid on their Baghdad home in which he and three of his brothers were detained, said Karim, 57.

The brothers have since been accounted for and are being held at Umm Qasr prison in southern Iraq.

"But they say they don't have Raad. No one knows where he is," Karim said. "I don't even know if he's alive. They say people die in these prisons and no one is ever told."
Copyright 2004, The Associated Press