The notoriety of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison - a byword for torture under Saddam Hussein and the US occupation - was consigned to the past yesterday as the American military transferred the now-empty complex to Iraqi Government control.
"Now the prison is protected by Iraqi forces, and the Iraqi Government will look into how to benefit from it in the national interest," a Government spokesman said.
Abu Ghraib, 30km west of the capital, is not expected to be used as a prison again.
American authorities have been slowly moving towards closing the prison ever since images of Army reservists taunting, humiliating and threatening naked inmates became public more than two years ago.
At the beginning of this year, the vast complex still contained about 4500 prisoners. About 2000 of those were released under a national reconciliation plan enacted in June by Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki.
The rest have been transferred to a new US military detention centre called Camp Cropper.
Abu Ghraib, made up of five walled compounds, was built by British contractors in the 1960s and soon became a symbol of Saddam's repressive regime.
Prisoners were often tortured and thousands were hanged, including British journalist Farzad Bazoft, who was accused of spying while on a reporting trip for the Observer in 1990.
The US military took over the prison after the 2003 invasion and gave it a more benign name, the Baghdad Central Correctional Facility. Within months, the prison was once again associated with abusive treatment - as documented by the Red Cross, internal Pentagon investigations and, ultimately, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker who made the abuses public.
These reports told of prisoners in American custody being sodomised with sticks, mauled by dogs and beaten to death.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld blamed the mistreatment on "a few bad apples".
The military staged a series of courts martial, targeting only reservists. Specialist Charles Graner, identified as the ringleader who arranged the naked prisoners in pyramids and hooked them to electrodes, was sentenced to 10 years.
Private Lynndie England, Graner's girlfriend, received a three-year sentence and a dishonourable discharge. She has since given birth to a son, who is being raised by her parents until she is released.
The top military commander at Abu Ghraib after the invasion, Brigadier General Janis Karpinksi, was demoted to colonel but otherwise went unpunished. She alleged that the abuses were orchestrated by US Army intelligence officers and private Government contractors, over whom she had no control, and accused the Pentagon of making her a scapegoat to deflect attention from its own responsibilities.
New jailers, same torture
* Beginning in 2003, numerous incident of abuse and torture of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq occurred. The acts were committed by personnel of the 372nd Military Police Company, CIA officers, and contractors involved in the occupation of Iraq.
* The United States Army started an internal investigation in January 2004.
* Reports of the abuse and graphic pictures showing American military personnel in the act of abusing prisoners came to public attention in April 2004.
* The Bush Administration and its defenders claimed the abuses were isolated acts committed by low-ranking personnel.
* Critics said authorities either ordered or implicitly condoned the abuses and demanded the resignation of senior Administration officials.
* The US Department of Defence removed 17 soldiers and officers from duty, and seven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault, and battery.
* Between May 2004 and September last year, seven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to terms in federal prisons and dishonourably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancee, Private Lynndie England, were sentenced to 10 years and three years in prison, respectively. The commanding officer at the prison, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was demoted to the rank of colonel.