Friday, September 05, 2003

Some 250 more policemen graduated Thursday from a crash course aimed at transforming a once corrupt and brutal force into a key element of the US-led coalition's efforts to fight crime and terrorism in post-Saddam Iraq.

"Remember that every day when you put on your uniform the citizens of Baghdad will look to you to do the right thing," US Army Brigadier General Curtis Scaparotti told them.

He was speaking at a ceremony held in the capital's police academy, just a few hundred metres (yards) from the spot where a car bomb on Monday ripped through a police parking lot and killed an officer.

Scaparotti and the Baghdad police chief, Hassan al-Obeidi, shook the graduates' hands and handed them their Transition Integration Programme diplomas as they filed past, to the rhythms of bagpipes and drums played by a police band...

"I learned a lot," said proud graduate Sergeant Salah Al-Ridha. "We learned about human rights and respect between the policeman and the citizen. None of that existed before."

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