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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saddam Hussein’s body was stabbed in the back, says guard

The body of Saddam Hussein was stabbed six times after he was executed, according to the head guard at the former president’s tomb north of Baghdad, who was one of the people that helped bury the corpse.

The claim is categorically denied by the head of Saddam’s tribe. The Iraqi Government similarly denies any mutilation took place after the dictator was hanged on December 30, 2006, for crimes against humanity.

Talal Misrab, 45, is the chief guard at Saddam’s tomb, housed in a large hall in al-Awja, a small village north of Baghdad, where the fallen dictator spent much of his childhood.

In an interview with The Times, he claimed: “There were six stab wounds on his body.” Mr Misrab alleged that four of the wounds were on the former president’s front and two on his back. He also said there was an injury to his face.

The guard alleged that 300 other people witnessed the injuries when the body was buried in the early hours of the morning, the day after Saddam was killed.

Another tribesman said he had been told by Sheikh Ali al-Neda, the former head of Saddam’s tribe, who has since also died, that the body had stab wounds.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s security advisor, denied the allegation.

“I oversaw the whole process from A-Z and Saddam Hussein’s body was not, not stabbed or mutilated and he was not humiliated before execution,” he said.

Sheikh Hasan al-Neda, who is now leader of Saddam’s tribe, also dismissed the suggestion that anyone had interfered with the corpse.

“I swear by God his body was totally intact except for a bruise on his cheek,” Mr al-Neda said. “When we received the body in Baghdad, we were told that they [the Iraqi authorities] washed and wrapped it according to Islamic traditions, but we still washed him again here in Tikrit.”

He continued: “My son Ahmed was there and he told a Saudi newspaper that the body was not mutilated in any way.”

The circumstances of Saddam’s death are not in dispute, however. His execution triggered international outrage after leaked video footage revealed that he was taunted by guards who chanted Shia Muslim slogans as the noose was placed around his neck on the gallows.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, told The Times last month that he regretted the way in which the sentence was carried out. He added: “Those who chanted were punished. There was no major violation apart from the chanting.”


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