Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday the government took the necessary steps “a long time ago” on fake bomb detectors, despite the fact that they are still in widespread use in the country.
“We took the necessary measures in a timely manner on this file, a long time ago,” Maliki said regarding the devices that Iraq had bought from a British businessman, according to a statement on his website.
Maliki said legal action has been taken against some of those involved in the case. “We will continue to follow this file in accordance with developments inside and outside Iraq,” he added.
The businessman James McCormick made an estimated £50 million ($76 million/59 million euros) selling to Iraq and other countries the devices, which prosecutors said were based on a novelty golf ball finder and did not work. He was sentenced on Thursday by a judge in Britain to 10 years in jail for fraud.
But despite the sentencing and overwhelming evidence that the devices are worthless, the Iraqi government has not taken them out of circulation, and security forces continue to use them at checkpoints.
“The device is a 100-percent failure and we know that, but it is imposed on us; we cannot disobey direct orders,” a policeman in Baghdad told AFP on Friday.
But he added: “If I were given a mop and told that it detects bombs in cars, I would still do it without any hesitation.”
Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi has said the devices will be replaced, but did not specify with what or when.
Relying on “bomb detectors” that do not work is an especially grave issue in Iraq, where violence is a major problem and bombings by militants are common.
More than 450 people were killed in violence in Iraq last month, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.