Bremer: Iraq detainees to be freed
Bremer: Those released must first renounce violence
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Iraqi civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, says the coalition will begin releasing certain detained Iraqis, if they renounce violence and have a respected sponsor in the community.
"To give impetus to those Iraqis who wish to reconcile with their countrymen, we are announcing today that the coalition will permit hundreds of currently detained Iraqis to return to their homes and to their families," Bremer said Wednesday at Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters.
Bremer said "the coalition will release the first 100 detainees" on Thursday. But it could take some time to process the prisoners before they are allowed to walk free, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition's deputy chief of operations.
As many as 500 detainees could be released by the end of the week, coalition officials said. There are about 12,000 detainees being held at facilities across Iraq, the officials said.
Bremer said avenues were being explored to provide greater family access to those being held by the coalition.
According to Bremer, a number of requirements must be met, but two are key to gain freedom.
"First, the person released must renounce violence. Second, the person released must have a guarantor, such as a prominent person in his community or a religious or tribal leader who will accept responsibility for the good conduct of the individual being set free."
Kimmitt said the process of finding the guarantors to vouch for each prisoner will take time, making it difficult to estimate when the prisoners will be released.
Bremer said people accused of violent crimes are not eligible for the program and noted the coalition will continue to pursue outlaws.
To that end, Bremer announced a new rewards program for wanted Iraqis, in addition to an existing plan to pay millions for higher-profile members of the old Iraqi regime.
"We will offer up to $200,000 in rewards for information leading to the capture of lesser criminals or information that that person is dead," Bremer said. The names of the individuals and the rewards for each will be released in the next 24 hours.