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Iraq takes anger out on Saudi detainees after losing football match

Published: Updated:

Twenty Saudi detainees in Iraqi prisons were tortured after the Iraqi national team lost the Gulf Cup football tournament to the UAE in a match supervised by a Saudi referee, according to Thamer Balheed, head of the Saudi detainees in Iraq.

Balheed told Al Arabiya TV that the Saudi prisoners were severely beaten and insulted by Iraqi prison guards who blamed the Saudi referee for their national team’s 1-2 defeat to the UAE.

A sport commentator on an Iraqi television network lost his temper during the match, issuing live prayers against Saudi referee Khalil al-Ghamdi and accusing him of being unfair to Iraq.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have recently resumed security cooperation talks, including discussion on a prisoners exchange deal.

This came after a Saudi man was released from an Iraqi jail and said he was tortured by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Balheed has previously stated that up to 60 Saudi detainees are being held in Iraqi prisons. He noted that they are being kept in different prisons and are all staying in deplorable conditions and exposed to various forms of torture.

However, when the issue of exchanging prisoners was introduced, the ‘Iraqi government refused it,” according to Balheed.

“We were met with extreme intransigence on the part of al-Maliki’s government,” Balheed said.