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Camp Bucca Detention Center Closes in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Sept. 17, 2009 – As the last detainee boarded a plane destined for another theater detention center today, the detainee operations mission at Camp Bucca, Iraq, officially ended.

An Air Force C-17 carrying the last group of 180 detainees lifted off from the Basra airport headed to Camp Cropper at 3:22 a.m., officials said.

“As a result of the great working relationship between the government of Iraq and Task Force 134, I’m pleased to say the Camp Bucca detention facility is now closed,” said Army Brig. Gen. David Quantock, Joint Task Force 134’s commanding general. “We’ve been working hand in hand with the government of Iraq to coordinate our detainee releases and transfers in accordance with the [U.S.-Iraq] security agreement, and that teamwork has allowed us to close the Bucca [theater internment facility].”

Task Force 134 members have been focusing on the safe and orderly releases and transfers of detainees in accordance with the security agreement, which took effect Jan. 1. The agreement, signed in November 2008, states that detainee transfers between coalition forces and the Iraqi government must be conducted with arrest warrants or detention orders. If detainees don’t have a warrant or detention order, they must be released.

The facility’s closure leaves only two U.S.-run detention centers in Iraq: Camp Taji, 16 miles north of Baghdad, and Camp Cropper, near the Baghdad International Airport, officials said. Detainees who were held at Camp Bucca -- but haven’t been released or transferred to the Iraqi government -- have been moved to one of the two remaining facilities.

Since February, Task Force 134 has released about 750 detainees from its detention facilities each month and transferred an average of 200 detainees per month to the Iraqi government, officials said.

With the Bucca center’s closure, 8,305 detainees remain in coalition custody, officials said. This year, 1,360 detainees have been transferred to the Iraqi government with a warrant, detention order or conviction of a terrorist act by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. Since the security agreement went into effect, 5,703 detainees have been released.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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