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unknown charges Lawyers of Irish-based engineer being held in Baghdad prison complain to UN about treatment

Mr Pether has been held in 14-foot cell with 22 other men for 90 days on unknown charges

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Ireland-based Robert Pether pictured here with two of his kids

Ireland-based Robert Pether pictured here with two of his kids

Ireland-based Robert Pether pictured here with two of his kids

Lawyers for Irish-based engineer Robert Pether, detained in Baghdad over a corporate dispute, have complained to the United Nations about his treatment. 

Australian national Mr Pether has been held in a 14-foot cell with 22 other men for 90 days on unknown charges relating to a contract dispute between the firm he works for and the Central Bank of Iraq.

As the days pass by, his wife Desree Pether, who lives with their three children in Elphin, Co Roscommon, said they are in constant fear and anxiety.

"It's like every single day is filled with so much pain and despair. And yet when you say 90 days, it feels like yesterday it happened," she said.

"It blows my mind it has been going on this long."

Mr Pether was chief engineer on a major project to construct the new Baghdad headquarters of the Central Bank of Iraq.

Having spent a week in Baghdad working with their Iraqi colleagues, Mr Pether and an Egyptian colleague, Khalid Zaghloul, were invited to a meeting with the bank governor on April 7 and were arrested.

Ms Pether says the Iraqi authorities have denied both men proper access to a lawyer, held them for an extended period in solitary confinement, and strictly controlled all contact with the outside world.

Both men have been denied access to their laptops, phones and files and have not been able to mount a meaningful legal defence.

"They are being asked about emails sent three years ago," Ms Pether said.

"Even the judge has said to them their integrity is not in question, and they are just there to answer questions.

"But how can they do that with no access to their emails or files?

"The judge even said it would all be over soon. So if that's the case, even if they were worried about them being a flight risk, why not place them under house arrest?

"Why are they being held in these conditions. We are up to day 90. It's such a blur.

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"Every day is so painful," she added.

Last Thursday, Mr Pether and his colleague were due to be brought before a judge who would decide if their case could be sent to a lower civil court. This would mean they would be released unconditionally.

However, the Iraqi government declared a national holiday due to soaring temperatures of almost 50C.

Ms Pether is hopeful the hearing will go ahead this Thursday but is afraid it could be delayed even further.

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