Baghdad – An Iraqi court handed down jail sentences ranging from 18 months to three years to 18 police officers on Tuesday for their failure to prevent protesters from storming and setting fire to Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad. The incident occurred on the night of July 20 when supporters of influential Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr attacked the embassy in response to an Iraqi refugee desecrating the Qur’an in Stockholm.
According to security officials, the internal security forces court in Baghdad found the 18 police officers guilty of neglecting their duties by allowing the protesters to assault the embassy. The verdict, seen by AFP, stated that eight officers received three-year jail terms, seven were sentenced to two years and three months, and three others received 18 months in prison. The authenticity of the verdict was confirmed by an interior ministry official who attended the hearing.
In addition to the jail sentences, some of the police officers involved in the case were permanently disbarred from the force, as stated in the verdict. The officers, including members of the diplomatic protection forces, have the option to appeal the ruling.
The desecration of the Qur’an, which occurred multiple times in Sweden and Denmark during the summer, led to heightened tensions between the Scandinavian countries and several Muslim nations in the Middle East. In response to the protests in which the Qur’an was desecrated, Iraq retaliated against Stockholm by announcing the expulsion of Sweden’s ambassador.
Swedish authorities had permitted the demonstrations on the grounds of freedom of speech but clarified that granting permission did not signify approval of the actions taken during the protests. Despite this explanation, Iraq took the step of expelling the Swedish ambassador as a form of retaliation.
The court’s verdict regarding the police officers involved in the embassy attack reflects Iraq’s commitment to maintaining law and order and holding individuals accountable for their failure to prevent violence. The sentences aim to send a strong message that negligence in carrying out duties will not be tolerated, particularly in cases involving attacks on diplomatic premises.
As Iraq continues to address the aftermath of the embassy attack, it remains essential for countries and communities to engage in dialogue and promote understanding to prevent further incidents that could strain international relations. The case involving the police officers highlights the importance of upholding responsibilities and maintaining security in a challenging and sensitive environment.