By John Lee.
Fake bomb detectors are reportedly still being used in Iraq, months after British conman James McCormick was jailed for selling them.
The former policeman is thought to have made £50 million from selling devices, based on a novelty £13 golf ball finder, to Iraq and other countries. Sentencing him to 10 years in prison, the judge told him that he had blood on his hands.
The Independent newspaper reports that the fake detectors were still being used at checkpoints in Iraq as recently as two days ago, when a wave of car bombs struck Baghdad, killing 55 people.
The Iraqi government had promised the devices would be phased out and replaced by sniffer dogs, but only two provinces in the south of the country have so far installed canine units, the newspaper reported.
Iraqi officials are reported to have complained that contradictory statements have been made to them from the government, leading to delays in the fake devices being banned.
A schoolteacher who witnessed one of Monday's explosions said:
"I went through one checkpoint on the way in [to Sadr City] where they had the detectors just before the bombing. They look like wands and they are supposed to bend when they spot a bomb. But they are useless, everyone knows that."
Hassan Abu Ridha, whose neighbour was injured in another of the blasts, told the newspaper:
"My cousin is a policeman and he says they know these things do not work, but they have no orders to stop using them and they have been given nothing else."
(Sources: The Guardian, The Independent)