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Saddam Underwear Photo Prompts Investigation

LONDON – A newspaper ran intimate photographs of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in US military custody, including one of him half-naked, prompting an investigation into possible human rights abuses.

Under the headline “Tyrant’s in his pants,” The Sun ran a front-page photo of a bare-chested Saddam standing in white underwear and holding an item of clothing as he appeared to be getting dressed, with an unpainted wooden door behind him.

In the accompanying article along with other intimate photographs of him, the newspaper quotes US military sources as saying they handed over the photos in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in Iraq.

“Saddam is not superman or God, he is now just an ageing and humble old man. It’s important that the people of Iraq see him like that to destroy the myth,” the source was quoted as saying.

“Maybe that will kill a bit of the passion in the fanatics who still follow him,” the source said. “It’s over, guys. The evil days of Saddam’s Baath Party are never coming back – and here’s the proof.”

In Baghdad, a US military spokesman said the military was investigating the photos of Saddam to find out who took them and decide what kind of disciplinary action should be taken.

“There is an investigation,” US Staff Sergeant Don Dees said. “A policy prohibits us from exploitation of detainees and that policy is in place to preserve their dignity.”

The photos “were taken in clear violation of Department of Defense directives and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals,” a US military statement said.

In addition, existing procedures and directives are being investigated “to prevent this from happening again,” the statement said.

On its front page, The Sun also ran a teaser photo with the headline “Inside’s Saddam’s jail cell. First ever pictures.” It claimed a world exclusive of the intimate life of the 68-year-old ousted dictator.

Inside, photographs appeared of the mustachioed Saddam wearing a white-robed garment while washing his clothes by hand in a bucket as he sat on a red plastic chair.

Another shows him sleeping, dressed in a black top and his head resting on a white pillow. A fourth photograph, which was the only black and white one, showed him shuffling about his jail, wearing a dark robe and sandals.

The Sun said the top secret location in Iraq where Saddam is held includes a living area that is fully air conditioned. He sleeps under US army blankets, is fed three freshly prepared meals a day, and is allowed to dye his hair black.

The compound has a washing block, a small courtyard and a small exercise yard. The thick plywood walls ringed with razor-sharp barbed wire are designed more to keep attackers out than Saddam in, it said.

He rarely mixes with other prisoners to protect him from assassination, it added.

Saddam is awaiting trial on a number of charges of crimes against humanity for his regime’s campaign against the Kurds and the brutal suppression of a Shiite Muslim uprising in 1991. No date has been set for his trial.

It is not the first time US soldiers have taken shocking photos in apparent violation of Geneva Convention guidelines. Numerous photos came to light in April 2004 showing abuses of detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.



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