When a local police chief was shot in the forehead in the impoverished southern Iraqi city of Amarah, the killing passed largely unnoticed. But a month later, the case is emerging as a test of the justice system in Iraq. Three brothers are implicated in the killing. One, the leader of an influential tribe, served on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which was recently disbanded in favor of an interim government. Another is governor of Maysan province in southern Iraq, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The May 15 shooting occurred in daylight, in front of more than 100 people, in the driveway of Amarah’s main public hospital. The victim, Mohammed Abdel Hassan Imshani, was police chief in the neighboring town of Majar. City leaders and dozens of frantic relatives had gathered that afternoon to collect the bodies of 20 Iraqis killed in a gun battle with British troops a day earlier. They and other city leaders rushed to the hospital after the bodies were released by the British. As they stood over the corpses outside the morgue, the men began to argue. Voices were raised, witnesses recall. Insults were traded. Suddenly, anguished relatives were jolted from their grief by a hail of gunfire. Imshani lay dead. “If Governing Council members and governors can deal with people in this manner, how are the bandits and criminals supposed to act?” says the police chief in Amarah and a friend of Imshani.