Interrogation committee claims victim had ties to Ansarul-Islam
Organization calls for further investigation as KRG publishes information on murder of Sardasht Osman.
Student and journalist Sardasht Osman was kidnapped and murdered in Mosul by an Ansarul-Islam band, read a statement on September 15 by the special interrogation committee formed to investigate the case according to a presidential order.
The statement angered the victim’s family and other organizations as interrogations revealed links of the victim with the insurgent group. The interrogation’s “conclusions are announced by an agency belonging to the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is the Ministry of Interior; thus, it represents the stance of the KRG as well,” remarked KRG spokesman Kaw Mahmoud in efforts to quell doubts that the investigation does not consider specific political side’s interest.
In the morning on May 4, before entering his college, Osman, a student in his final year of college, was captured by unknown people and pushed into a van. Two days later he was found dead in Mosul. The murder occupied local and sometimes international media for weeks, and Kurdish authorities were directly and indirectly suspected in the killing. Allegations were that Osman had been murdered for opinion editorials he wrote criticizing Kurdish politicians.
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani ordered a special security committee to investigate the case. The committee announced its initial statement on May 23 with basic information, mostly already reported by media. The situation remained fairly calm until last Wednesday when the committee announced the conclusion of its investigation.
“After collecting and studying information received from different sources, it appeared for to the interrogation committee that a person called Hisham Mahmoud Ismael, who is a member of Ansarul-Islam, is involved in the murder,” read the statement. The suspect is 28 and originally a Kurd from Mosul; he works as car mechanic in the industrial area of Beji town. The committee added that they were able to arrest the suspect in cooperation with the Beji Police Directorate and the court. “The arrested suspect admitted the crime after interrogations,” read the statement, which also explains the story and mentions initials of names of other involved elements of the group.
Ismael was informed by his leader (R.R.) to go to Shargat town in Salahaddin province to receive “something” from another member (R.M.) and bring it back to Mosul. When Ismael went to Shargat, he met three people who gave him a car in which the victim was handcuffed and his mouth taped, but he was still alive. Ismael drove the car accompanied by (R.M.) to Mosul and dropped the victim and (R.R.) in the Intisar neighborhood. A few days later, Ismael found out the hostage was killed.
The interrogation committee said that the testimonies are recorded by the Erbil Court and the committee continues to arrest other involved elements. However, Kurdistan media was suspect of the results, particularly the statement showing links of the victim with the group.
According to Ismael’s testimony, the statement said, “The reason of the killing is because Sardasht Osman had promised this group to do work for them but he didn’t perform it.”
The internal and security committee of Kurdistan Parliament reportedly said that they will summon the interrogation committee for further explain their findings at a Parliament meeting.
Meanwhile, a number of journalists and intellectuals in Suleimaniya published an open letter asking for transparency of the documents of interrogations for the Kurdistan people through the media. They said they were “shocked by the results, which increase doubts on the interrogations.”
“Among people, the case was known as murder because of freedom of expression; now the initial outcome by the interrogation committee, unexpectedly, appears as if the victim in some way had links with a “terrorist group” and was murdered because of that,” read the open letter.
Other organizations and personalities as well as the victim’s family members have expressed the same sentiments to local media.