Mystery Surrounds Fate of Saddam Hussein’s Remains

Tuesday, 17 April, 2018 - 07:00 -

Mystery Surrounds Fate of Saddam Hussein’s Remains

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An Iraqi resident walk past a poster of Saddam Hussein. (Reuters)
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat
Deputy head of the Higher Criminal Court in Iraq, Judge Munir Haddad, who attended the hanging of former ruler Saddam Hussein, revealed that the fate of his body remains a mystery.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that after his execution, his family requested his body so that he could be buried according to Islamic rituals in his hometown of al-Awjah in the Salaheddine province.

Haddad, who at the time served as head of the Higher Criminal Court, had presided over Saddam’s 2006 hanging and led him personally to the gallows.

“The Iraqi government at the time agreed to his clan’s request,” he added.

Two members of the clan were present to receive his body and it was indeed transported to al-Awjah onboard an American helicopter.

Commenting on reports about Saddam's secret grave, Haddad said: “I have no knowledge about claims that his corpse had been removed or that his mausoleum was blown up.”

There were also rumors that his daughter had taken the decision to bury him in another location.

“Our role ended with his execution and the transfer of his body to his family at their request,” stressed Haddad.

“We were more forgiving than him because we turned him over after he was executed. He, on the other hand, executed our relatives and used to bury them in mass graves,” he remarked.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Enzi of the Salaheddine elders council told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saddam’s family moved his corpse to a secret location before the ISIS terrorist group occupied the region.

He said it was not clear if it was relocated due to fears over what ISIS could do to the corpse.

“The motive for the move is known by very few members of his clan,” he stated.

Moreover, he said that the mausoleum where he was originally buried had turned into a form of pilgrimage site for his supporters.

The site was later blown up by ISIS, Enzi said, but Saddam’s remains were not there at the time.

At Saddam's grave, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), tasked with security in the area, said the mausoleum was destroyed in an Iraqi air strike after ISIS posted snipers on its roof, said an Agence France Presse report.

Sheikh Manaf Ali al-Nida, a leader of the Albu Nasser tribe to which Saddam's clan belongs, said he was not there to witness the blast -- but he is convinced that Saddam's tomb was "opened and blown up".

He did not specify who he believes is behind the attack “because we know nothing of al-Awjah since we departed it.” He currently resides in Erbil in Kurdistan.

Al-Awjah has been completely depleted of its residents and it is being guarded by the PMF. No one is allowed into the town without prior authorization.

Saddam's clan was forcefully displaced from the area, he charged.

“We have been wronged and are still being wronged because we are Saddam's relatives. Should generation after generation keep paying the price of being his relative?”

Jaafar al-Gharawi, the PMF security chief, insisted that Saddam’s “body is still there."

One of his fighters, however, speculated that Saddam's exiled daughter Hala had flown in on a private plane and whisked her father's body away to Jordan.

"Impossible!" said a university professor and longtime student of the Saddam era, who declined to give his name.

"Hala has never come back to Iraq," he said. "(The body) could have been taken to a secret place... nobody knows who moved it or where."

If that was the case, Saddam's family would have closely guarded the secret of the location, he added.

Saddam's tomb could have suffered the same fate as that of his father, at the entrance to the village, which was unceremoniously blown up.

But some, including Baghdad resident Abu Samer, believe the Iraqi strongman is still out there.

"Saddam's not dead," he said. "It was one of his doubles who was hanged."

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