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Iraq: Reprisal Killing of Civilian is War Crime

(New York, May 13, 2004) The brutal killing in Iraq of Nicholas Berg constitutes a wanton and cruel act of murder with no conceivable justification, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Nick Berg’s killers claimed they were avenging the degrading treatment and torture of Iraqi detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The crimes by U.S. jailers, no matter how despicable, cannot justify this war crime. One atrocity never justifies another.”

Human Rights Watch repeated its call for Iraqi armed groups to immediately and unconditionally release other persons still being held hostage, and said that Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces should make all efforts to bring Berg’s killers to justice.

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