Memories of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib have resurfaced as a military appeals court reviews whether the judge in one case conducted the trial properly. Meanwhile, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani encouraged voters to participate in next month’s national elections. At least eight Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded in light violence. Also, there are rumors that the Mahdi Army may be resurfacing as sectarian violence appears to be re-igniting.
A U.S. military appeals court is set to review the conviction of an army reservist found guilty of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. At issue is whether the original trial judge erred in not allowing jurors to see memos that permitted "enhanced interrogation tactics." Former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. was sentenced in 2005 to ten years in prison for his role as "ringleader" in the abuse case.
In response to followers who asked if there is any merit to voting in next month’s elections, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani encouraged potential voters to participate. Sistani is Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric and his support of the election could mean high Shi’ite turnout. Although it is Sunni Muslims who are threatening an outright boycott, Shi’ite voters remain ambivalent about participating in the election thanks to what they see as poor performance from the current crop of lawmakers.
An Interior Ministry official says that the Mahdi Army may be reforming. This fear comes as Shi’ite/Sunni attacks resume in Baghdad. In Mosul, another round of anti-Christian violence could also be at hand.
In Mosul, an I.E.D. wounded five in the Yarmouk neighborhood. A 20-year-old Christian man was found dead, his body riddled with bullets. An army soldier was shot dead at a checkpoint. Two policemen were killed in separate attacks.
Three bodies were discovered at two locations in Arbil.
An off-duty Peshmerga fighter was killed in Tuz Khormato.
In Baghdad, five suspects were arrested. A man was killed on Jan. 23 during a previously unreported home invasion in Hurriya; such small attacks seldom get reported now that journalists have turned their attention away from Iraq.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Hamdaniya arrested a local Arab official and his guard. Their whereabouts are unknown.
Four suspects were arrested and three rockets were seized in Basra province.