Prime Minister Seeks Iraqi Probe Into Alleged Rape by GIs

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday he wants an independent Iraqi investigation, or at least a joint investigation with coalition forces, into the alleged rape and murder of an Iraqi girl by U.S. troops.

In his first comments on the rape case, the prime minister told reporters in Kuwait that the immunity from Iraqi prosecution given to U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq should be "reviewed."

"We believe that the immunity given to members of coalition forces encouraged them to commit such crimes in cold blood — the thing that makes it necessary to review it," al-Maliki said.

CountryWatch: Iraq

A former U.S. Army soldier was charged Monday in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., in the case. At least four other U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are under investigation.

The girl's father, mother and sister were also killed in the March attack on their house in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.

"We are going to demand an independent Iraqi investigation or at least a joint investigation between us and the multi-national forces," al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki said his government wants countries that are hosting Saddam Hussein's wife and daughter to extradite them or prevent them from supporting terrorism.

Iraqi officials have long alleged that Saddam's relatives in exile have been financing insurgent groups linked to the former ruling Baath party. The former dictator's wife, Sajida Khairallah Tulfah, lives in Qatar where she has been granted asylum. His daughter, Raghad, lives in Jordan.

"We will work for demanding their extradition or at least silencing them and not allowing them to make some Arab brotherly and friendly countries a base for their terrorist activities," the prime minister said.

He added that Raghad's extradition would not cause a "crisis between us and the brothers in Jordan."

Jordan's government said this week it had received no formal request to extradite Raghad. The Qatari government has not commented publicly on the Iraqi demand, but a pro-Saddam lawyer in the Gulf state predicted this week that the government would not hand over Sajida.

Meanwhile, al-Maliki informed Jordan's government he planned to postpone a visit to Jordan scheduled for Thursday because of "political obligations in Iraq," said a Jordanian government spokesman, Nasser Judeh.

Judeh denied that the postponement was related to Raghad's case.

Raghad, her children and her sister, Rana, have lived in Jordan since they fled Iraq in 2003. Earlier in the week, Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Al-Bakhit said the woman and her children live in Jordan for humanitarian reasons and are guests of the country's royal family.

Al-Bakhit said Jordan had not received any official request in regard to the daughter.

"Jordan will deal with the issue when it occurs and according to what is appropriate," he said.