Iraq police chief denies involvement in camp raid

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An Iraqi police chief called to appear before a Spanish court as part of a probe into a deadly assault by Iraqi forces on an Iranian opposition camp on Tuesday denied involvement in the raid.

Iraqi security forces stormed Camp Ashraf in Diyala province, which houses supporters of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), the Islamic republic's main exiled opposition, on July 28, 2009, triggering violent clashes.

Iraqi medical and security sources have said that 11 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the assault.

"I am innocent," Major General Abdul Hussein al-Shemmari, the police chief of Diyala province, told AFP.

"The force that entered the camp came from Baghdad, and they were an army force, not from the police," Shemmari said.

"After they entered the camp, they asked Diyala police to establish a police station in the camp, and this is what we did," he said.

"I wonder why the complaint is against me. I have nothing to do with what happened there. And I repeat that the force that entered the camp came from outside Diyala province," he added.

A Spanish National Court ruling in favour of an investigation of the raid, which was issued on December 27, became effective on Tuesday following a five-day waiting period for possible appeals, said a lawyer for relatives of the victims.

Judge Fernando Andreu ordered Shemmari to appear before the court on March 8 as the first step of the probe, according to a court writ sent to AFP by the lawyer, Juan Garces.

Shemmari is accused of directing the attack at the camp, which was set up in the 1980s when now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was at war with Iran, as a base to operate against the Iranian government.

© 2011 AFP

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