Follow up and Fact Checking on Kidnapping, Killing of Widat Hussain case,[ Journalist From Duhok]
Kurdistan Region Parliament
Human Rights Committee
This is a complete report on the kidnapping and murder of Roj News journalist Wedat Hussein Ali, who was abducted in downtown Duhok on August 13, 2016. He was later found severely injured and his body was dumped near Sumel, in the Duhok Governorate. His family found his body at Duhok Emergency Hospital. More than 100 days passed with no further progress made from an investigation by security forces, despite the existence of dozens of pieces of evidence which could help security forces to recognize the perpetrators.
From Departing to the Abduction
Wedat drove his gray Chevrolet Optra (Plate #18373/Duhok-Iraq) on August 13, 2016 from Kore Gavana in Zawite district to downtown Duhok along with his brother Sardar and Sardar’s wife. Wedat dropped off Sardar’s wife in front of her parents’ house in the Hay Askari neighborhood.
Wedat later brought Sardar to his workplace near the Malta area where Sardar was installing alucobond in a building. Wedat was only 100 meters away from where his brother Sardar was working. Wedat’s car was blocked by two cars. Two people emerged from the cars and placed a gun at Wedat’s head, forcing him to get into one of the cars. They later put a mask over Wedat’s head and put him in the back seat of one of the cars. The cars immediately left the area, driving on the wrong side of the road, and took Wedat away.
One of the cars was a black KIA Cerato and the second was a white Coverlet Optra. The man who placed the gun to Wedat’s head was a tall man with gray hair. When bystanders gathered and asked them why they took Wedat, the kidnappers replied, “He hit a child with his car and did not stop.”
Bystanders at the location where wedat was kidnapped filmed the incident with their smartphones. After the cars had left, several people arrived wearing civilian attire who identified themselves as members of Asayish [Kurdish security forces affiliated with political parties]. They requested individuals in the area to hand over their smartphones to them, and they forced them to remove the recordings.
After 15 minutes, people informed Wedat’s brother Sardar, who was working nearby, his brother had been kidnapped, and counter-crime police had towed his car. It is very rare for police to remove a car 15 minutes before conducting an investigation.
There are about 200 private and public surveillance cameras along the way from Zawita to the location where Wedat was kidnapped. On the same day at 8:30, a team of counter-crime police followed Wedat and visited markets and business locations where Wedat had passed. These business owners on the first inquiry said counter-crime police had visited them and forced them to erase their records. Later, under pressure, these people changed their statements and now do not want, to tell the truth.
After Kidnapping Until the Body was Found
Wedat’s brother went to counter-crime police after the kidnapping and told them his brother had been abducted. “I believe Asayish kidnapped him,” the brother said.
The Mukhtar of Se Je [Shazi] Village stated Wedat’s body was found dumped near the area. A mini-truck driver informed the Mukhtar about Wedat’s body. The Mukhtar said he went to the location and found Wedat still alive. He answered the Mukhtar’s questions about his name and where he was from. Later the Mukhtar informed police at Sumel and they transferred Wedat to a hospital in the town. The truck driver accompanied Wedat to the hospital as well. It was said Wedat was still alive at Sumel.
Sumel is 10 minutes away from Duhok by car. Police kept Wedat’s body in the hospital at Sumel for one hour. The hospital there does not have basic surgery rooms. They later transferred Wedat to an emergency hospital in Duhok without providing an ambulance. Counter-crime police then informed his family and told them their son was at the hospital.
The family found two members of Asayish were monitoring Weda’s room when they arrived at the hospital. There was also a police officer standing in the room. Wedat had not received treatment at all and lost his life by the time the family arrived. Later, his body was transferred to a forensics lab.
Witnesses who refused to cite their names were at the hospital at the time Wedat was brought there. They said members of Asayish had used electric shocks under his ears and put an injection under Wedat’s ribs.
What was Found on Wedat’s Body?
Some people said Wedat’s body was discovered near a dumping area, but his clothes were very clean with no mud or anything else observed on his clothes aside from blood. There were other scars on his body, such as burn marks, marks of electric shocks and signs of torture. An iron bar had been put on his right eye and came out from the back of his head. His fingers as well as and his arm was broken by an iron bar cutter.
What did Duhok Asayish Tell Wedat before his Death?
Wedat had been questioned by Asayish three times before his death. The last time he was investigated by Asayish occurred one month before his death. They informed him he can work for Roj News, a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliated agency, but encouraged him to cooperate with Asayish as well. They offered to provide him with a car and cash. When Wedat refused the request, Asayish told him his case was closed and transferred to Asayish leadership.
Wedat was an employee at the directorate of culture in Duhok. He lost his job there due to his affiliation with Roj News.
Who was Wedat Supposed to Meet the Day he was Kidnapped?
Wedat signed a contract with Roj News on April 16, 2016, and worked for them as a journalist. The day he was kidnapped, he had an appointed with an official from the Change Movement (Gorran) and an official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He was trying to find out the views these officials had on the issue of the Kurdistan Presidency, one year after Masoud Barzani’s mandate had expired.
What was Found in His Car?
All evidence related to threats Wedat had received, from his laptop, an iPad, two mobile phones (Galaxy Samsung, Sony Ericson) were found in the car. He had two mobile numbers: one Korek and one Zain. However, security forces were able to access his devices before handing them to his family.
Wedat’s Facebook account was opened on all devices he had with him in his car. His Facebook posts were deleted shortly after his death, and his account deactivated. The Facebook account could have given access to threatening messages he had received.
Widat’s Family under Threat
One of Wedat’s brothers was a major in the Peshmerga forces, but he has left his job due to threats he has received. Another child, in the ninth grade, left school for security reasons. His sister and another brother have received threats and are under surveillance. The entire family’s life is under threat.
Police have investigated the following: A brother who was asked by police why he had called Wedat on the day he was kidnapped. Two other individuals were questioned for conducting an interview with Wedat as a journalist.
This is an organized act of terror [killing] and appeared to be conducted by security forces in the city. There is more than enough proof about the case. However, 100 days has passed with no progress made in the investigation process. Therefore, the ruling party [the Kurdistan Democratic Party] and security authorities in the city are accused of killing Wedat.
Soran Omer Munira Osman
Chairman of Human Rights Commission Member of Human Rights Commission
Kurdistan Region Parliament Kurdistan Region Parliament
Date: 26 November 2016