Iraq frees 13 Iranian pilgrims detained for illegal entry

February 22, 2006 - 0:0
BAGHDAD (IRNA) -- Iraq on Monday released a group of 13 Iranian pilgrims charged with illegally entering the country to visit Iraq's holy sites and cities, it was reported here Monday evening.

Iran's First Deputy Ambassador Hossein Zolanvar told IRNA that the 13 Iranians were expelled from Iraq upon an order of the governor-general of Wasit Province in eastern Iraq.

However, 64 Iranian pilgrims are still in Iraqi prisons charged with the same offense, Zolanvar added.

He said that under the immigration laws and regulations of Iraq any person entering the country for whatever purpose without the necessary visa can be sentenced to at least six months imprisonment.

The official wondered how Iranian pilgrims could risk illegal entry into Iraq when tens of pilgrimage groups, consisting of up to 1,500 persons each, legally arrive in the country on a daily basis.

Zolanvar stressed that pilgrims who enter the country legally are put in relatively secure conditions and provided facilities.