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Cablegate: Prt Wasit: Playing On the Same Team: The Iraqi

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1. (SBU) Summary: The relationship between the Iraqi Police
(IP) and judicial personnel in Wasit province appears to have
improved significantly over the last year after reaching a
low point marked by violence in late 2008. Corruption,
bribery, and failure to work jointly plagued the
relationship, and came to a head in December 2008 when a
gunfight broke out among rival security details at a
courthouse during a PRT engagement. PRToffs credit sustained
efforts by both the police and judiciary, effective Iraqi
Higher Judicial Council policies, and PRT Wasit Rule of Law
encouragement/training for some of the apparent improvements
in the relationship one year later. A highlight of that
progress is the broad attendance and enthusiastic response by
both the IP and local judiciary at a forensic seminar last
month. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During a meeting between the Wasit Chief Judge (CJ)
and PRToffs on 28 December 2008, gun shots were fired.
Reportedly, the CJ,s security guards and IP officers
arriving for a meeting with the CJ exchanged gunfire. The
firefight took place in the parking lot in front of the Al
Kut Courthouse Administration Building. The CJ, an IP
officer, and two American 41st Fires Brigade officers
restored order between the Judge,s staff and the IP. The CJ
ordered both the Provincial Director of Police and one of his
own aides off courthouse property for their role in the
fight. All IP personnel left the area, along with one court
employee who had been involved in the incident. Several IP
personnel later returned to the courthouse area and a second
shooting incident occurred. Neither incident resulted in any
injuries. (Note: This incident previously was reported in
the January 2009 PRT Rule of Law Situation Report. End Note)

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3. (SBU) This violent manifestation of intra-governmental
hostility suggested that the investigative and judicial
system was broken. But part of the process of healing the
system occurred at a meeting immediately following the
shooting. The PRT,s Rule of Law Adviser was at that meeting
and secured the skeptical CJ,s support to continue regular
training sessions for Iraqi investigative police conducted by
provincial judges. The CJ continued the training sessions
and, a year later, despite personnel changes in Chief Judge
leadership and investigative judge positions, these courses
remain a mainstay of the police/judicial nexus. These 12 to
15 officer training sessions are four week courses, held two
days per week with an examination at the end.
4. (SBU) The relationship strengthened further during the
summer of 2009 when Chief Judge Medhat of the Iraqi Higher
Judicial Council reassigned virtually all chief judges,
including those in Wasit. He apparently took this move in an
effort to break up perceived patterns of corruption. One
effect of judicial reassignments in Wasit was that police
officers and minor court officials were dismissed from their
jobs when judges, orders were ignored or corruption was
uncovered. Examples include a newly assigned judge firing a
police officer who violated the judge,s orders concerning
abuse of detainees. The prior judge had failed to act.
Another example is the demotion of a senior Al Kut court
administrator because he charged unauthorized fees for the
use of the restroom at the courthouse. Thus, the judicial
shakeup was an effective agent of change. Since a police
officer,s job in Wasit allegedly cost a $1000 bribe at the
time, the loss had serious financial implications. Police at
all levels bought in to the concept that judges, orders had
Qall levels bought in to the concept that judges, orders had
to be strictly obeyed. The new CJ also began to focus on
detainee rights and conditions resulting in fewer forced
confessions and more secure convictions. Similarly,
anecdotal reporting of police accepting cash to free arrested
people declined during this period. On the judicial side,
the work of investigative judges in responding to police
requests for warrants is noteworthy. As an example, the five
investigative judges in Al Kut, the largest provincial city,
issue a total of 250 to 300 warrants each day.
5. (SBU) At the Wasit Chief Judge,s invitation, the PRT
Rule of Law team hosted a forensic evidence seminar in
downtown Al-Kut in late January, which included a
presentation by a former FBI agent. Twenty-eight Iraqi
police attended this half-day conference, along with
approximately 32 judges from courthouses throughout the
Province. They all sat together--albeit on opposite sides of
the room--and were soon involved in an interactive question
and answer session about proper procedures to follow in
collecting, preserving and analyzing evidence such as DNA,
hair follicles, cloth fibers and fingerprints. The audience
participation and response was overwhelmingly positive. Even
the Provincial Governor expressed his thanks for
demonstrating what is possible through the use of forensics.
6. (SBU) Comment: During the seminar break, policemen and
judges interacted normally with no hints of hostility or
tension. Our conclusion is that the rift of a year ago has
largely healed. The visible signs of a positively evolving

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IP/judicial dynamic are clear. The PRT plans to coordinate
training opportunities for personal security details (PSD)
assigned to guard judges and continues to focus its efforts
on judiciary training of IP officers and introduction to
basic forensic methods for investigative judges; all of this
to help bridge the institutional gaps between the Iraqi
judiciary and law enforcement. An additional gap-bridging
measure, modeled on a task force in Anbar province, is the
current effort to form a US Forces/Iraqi investigative task
force for Wasit to bring US Forces investigative know-how and
technical assets to bear on Iraqi police investigations. When
the task force deploys, its work should substantially
strengthen the IP/judiciary relationship. End comment.

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