Dhi Qar judges move into new courthouse
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and Iraqi Police examine the newly constructed courthouse in Al Fajir, Dhi Qar Province.

COB ADDER, Iraq - The ancient Babylonian Empire was ruled by King Hammurabi from 1792 to 1750 B.C. and encompassed a great deal of modern-day Iraq, including the current operating area of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Hammurabi established the Code of Hammurabi, circa 1790 B.C, believed to be the first set of written laws governing mankind in this area. This code outlined property rights, rights of accused individuals, and punishments for acts of injustice.

Almost 4,000 years later, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. is continuing this quest for justice by helping to increase the local government's rule-of-law capacity in Iraq's Dhi Qar Province.

In coordination with the Dhi Qar Provincial Reconstruction Team, the Soldiers have been supervising the construction of a courthouse in Al Fajir. The Iraqi Government began construction of the courthouse in 2009 but could not complete the project due to a lack of funds.

The courthouse is intended to alleviate a backlog at other courts in the area. The Dhi Qar PRT turned to the U.S. Army, who funded the remainder of the construction under the Commander's Emergency Response Fund Program.

Over the last four months, troops have worked intensely to supervise the construction of the courthouse, and they saw their efforts pay off as the contractor placed the finishing touches on the building. In anticipation, the Iraqi judges began to move in before the formal commemoration and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"The judges are ready and willing to accept the courthouse," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Sergeant, a platoon sergeant from Colorado Springs, Colo. "Currently, criminal trials are being held in a rundown courtroom across town [that] has too many cases for them to handle."

The 3rd BCT headquarters also supports local, PRT-sponsored training courses in Nasiriyah. The training focuses on bringing lawyers, judges and Iraqi Police officers together to discuss evidence collection, criminal investigation techniques, weapons simulation training, codes of ethics, and proper evidence handling.

"They are helping bring Iraqis who work in the justice sector together at the Mittica Training Center. We recently had a seminar where judges helped police investigators learn how to successfully collect evidence and procedurally use that evidence in criminal prosecutions,"said Maj. Dan McAuliffe, deputy brigade judge advocate and rule-of-law coordinator for Dhi Qar and Muthanna and native of Denver serving with the 1st Army Training Support Division-West.

In another course, members of the 3rd BCT taught Iraqi Security Force personnel the proper way to collect evidence from explosive devices.

"There are a lot of great things going on in Dhi Qar Province right now," said Sgt. William Nelson, armor crewman from Phoenix partnered with the Dhi Qar PRT. "It's a wonderful feeling to know that I'm involved in helping Iraq prepare for its future."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16