Last updated: 3 November, 2012

Iraqi police arrests prison chief after Al-Qaeda incident

Iraqi police on Saturday arrested the head of a jail from which dozens of Al-Qaeda militants escaped weeks ago, hours after he left hospital where he was treated for wounds suffered in the incident.

Brigadier General Laith al-Salmani is now being investigated in connection with the September 27 jailbreak, when more than 100 inmates escaped from the prison in Tikrit, although several were killed or recaptured in the following days and weeks.

Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has since said it was behind an assault on the facility that led to the mass escape.

“Police today arrested the director of the prison of Tikrit, Brigadier General Laith al-Salmani,” said a police officer in Salaheddin, the province of which Tikrit is the capital.

“He was accused of failure to do his job. Salmani left hospital today after he was treated.”

Salmani had been discharged from the hospital in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil and had been on his way to Kirkuk when he was detained for investigation, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Dismissed provincial police chief Major General Abdul Karim al-Khazraji and Iraq’s deputy interior minister Adnan al-Assadi have in recent weeks traded barbs over who was to blame for the jailbreak.

Khazraji published a letter dated days before the escape requesting reinforcements, while Assadi shot back that the proposal had been approved but Khazraji had failed to act.

Khazraji was dismissed in the wake of the jailbreak, in which 16 security force personnel were killed.

The assault on the prison was claimed by Al-Qaeda’s front group the Islamic State of Iraq on October 12, after ISI announced in July a campaign to regain territory, target judges and prosecutors and free prisoners.