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Middle East

Red Cross warns PoW picture close-ups illegal

Iraqi and Western media were guilty of breaking the Geneva Conventions by using close-up pictures of US captives in Iraq, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday. The four conventions, drawn up in 1949, included a provision that prisoners taken in fighting should be protected "against insults and public curiosity".

The ICRC spokeswoman Tamara al-Rifai said: "The Convention completely prohibits publishing pictures of prisoners of war, as has been happening. It applies to all parties. For us, the law is clear, and all the parties involved in this war were signatories." On Sunday, Iraqi state television had pictures of shaken US soldiers being interviewed beside the bodies of up to eight of their comrades, causing furious US officials to claim it was a clear violation.

President George Bush has warned that anybody who mistreated US prisoners would be regarded as a war criminal. But America was accused of double standards yesterday over its refusal to apply the conventions to prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay after the military campaign in Afghanistan.

* The US prisoners of war will be treated in accordance with "the teachings of Islam", Iraq's Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, said yesterday.