Something is remarkably strange about this matter. Riverbend posted about the incident in her inimitable fashion and in such a way that it seemed doubtless that the rape did occur. Now the Iraqi government has arrested this woman. We would like to know the full story.
Woman arrested over police rape claims
Ned Parker in Baghdad
The Iraqi Government has arrested a woman who alleged last month that she was raped by three Iraqi policemen, claims that provoked a spate of sectarian killing, two Iraqi officials told The Times.
Sabrine Janabi’s rape case has polarised Iraq’s Sunni and Shia communities at a moment when the country is already enmeshed in a low-level civil war. Shia officials have accused her of being a proxy for Sunni militants who want to sabotage a security plan for Baghdad, while Sunni politicians have pointed to her story as proof of the sectarian nature of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Government.
Janabi shocked Iraq last month when she appeared on Al-Jazeera television and accused three policemen of detaining her and then raping her in their garrison.
Her story earned a fiery rebuttal from the Shia Prime Minister, who praised the policemen and promised to promote them. His office released a medical report allegedly taken from a US military combat hospital that said the woman had been beaten but showed no signs of sexual penetration.
Rape is a taboo subject in Arab culture and the news of Janabi’s rape sparked anger in the Sunni community.
In turn, the Government accused Janabi of being paid by insurgents to make her claims. An arrest warrant was issued and Janabi then vanished from the scene.
Sunni extremist groups vowed revenge and 14 policemen were executed by the Al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq in early March.
Since then, Iraqi officials have debated how to handle the Janabi case, which could still fuel even greater violence. However, two Iraqi officials told The Times Monday that Janabi was arrested a few days after the scandal broke and had filmed her confession.
Although initial reports described Janabi as a 20-year-old Sunni Turkman, the officials said that she was actually a Shia woman, who worked as a prostitute and had been paid by the Islamic Party, the largest Sunni faction in parliament, to come forward with the charges. Janabi was a pseudonym she invented for her job.
“She is in Iraqi custody. She was arrested a few days after you heard about her. She lied,” one of the officials told The Times.
“She was interrogated by a doctor and expert in rape cases.” The Government had initially planned to release her videotaped confession this week, but delayed it, the official said.
Another official said that the Government was worried about the impact the video would have on Sunni-Shia relations in Iraq. Sunnis are still seething about the video of Saddam Hussein’s hanging in December that was leaked on the internet.
Before her arrest, Janabi had already been detained briefly by police for living in a displaced person’s house, where she was suspected of working in a medical clinic for insurgents, the official said. She will most likely be prosecuted on these charges, he said.
Salim Abdullah, a spokesman for the Islamic Party, told The Times that the Government was trying to cover up Janabi’s rape. “An arrest warrant was issued against Sabrine al-Janabi so as to prevent her from talking anymore to the media,” Abdullah said.
“From the beginning we figured out her arrest would be aimed at seizing her confessions from the public as well as to fabricate a lie.” He denied the Islamic Party had any role in the case.
The Iraqi Government has raided the homes of eight Sunni MPs in the last week, Salim Abdullah told The Times.
A senior Shia official said raids on the homes of Sunni MPs Khalaf al-Ayan and Dhafir al-Ani had found bomb-making materials.