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Originally published Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 8:02 AM

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Fugitive Iraq VP claims 2 guards tortured to death

Iraq's fugitive vice president said two more of his bodyguards have been tortured to death by security forces during a terrorism investigation last month.

Associated Press

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BAGHDAD —

Iraq's fugitive vice president said two more of his bodyguards have been tortured to death by security forces during a terrorism investigation last month.

A statement issued late Tuesday by the office of Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's top Sunni official, alleged the men died during interrogation. It did not give their names, identifying them only by their initials, A.H. and A.A.

It said they were killed a few days before the Arab summit held in Baghdad in late March.

"The security officials did not announce the killings at the time, fearing that this news might affect the summit," the statement said.

Iraqi government officials could not be reached to comment on the allegations.

Al-Hashemi's office demanded judicial authorities investigate the two deaths as well as that of a third bodyguard, Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi, who died earlier in detention.

Al-Hashemi previously alleged that al-Batawi was also tortured. The government acknowledged his death but said he died of kidney failure while being questioned during the inquiry against al-Hashemi.

Iraq's Shiite-dominated government has accused al-Hashemi of running death squads against Shiite pilgrims, government and security officials.

Al-Hashemi denies the charges, saying they are politically motivated. He fled to Iraq's Kurdish self-ruled region in December, and is currently in Turkey on a tour of neighboring Sunni-led countries.

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