August 22, 2004 LAWFUEL – Best ont the Net for legal news, l…

August 22, 2004 LAWFUEL – Best ont the Net for legal news, law news, law articles Questions surround the final weeks of Nicholas Berg, the 26-year-old
American beheaded in Iraq last May. Now his father, Michael Berg, is banging
on doors in D.C. to research the circumstances of his son’s detention in an
Iraqi jail prior to his abduction. U.S. military officials have said Berg was
detained by Iraqi police for 13 days before being offered a safe trip out of
Iraq, which he declined. But Rep. Jim Gerlach tells Newsweek that even if
Iraqi police had physical custody of Berg, the U.S. had “legal custody.” There
is no evidence Berg was allowed to consult a lawyer or contact his family for
almost two weeks. Violence in Iraq escalated and Berg missed a scheduled
flight home. Berg was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Berg’s father blames U.S. authorities. “They told my son they had
contacted his family, when they hadn’t, and they risked his safety by keeping
him in Iraq when he had been preparing to leave,” he told Newsweek, citing an
e-mail Nick sent the day he was released: “I have a rock in my stomach.” “Yes,
there was a bit of confusion,” says one State Department official about
conflicting reports on who had custody of Berg. U.S. authorities say they have
launched an investigation into Berg’s abduction, but Gerlach has yet to learn
who’s conducting it.