Saddam's Horrors Surface
Agence France Presse
NEW YORK/BAGHDAD, 23 April 2003 — Uday, Saddam Hussein's feared elder son and president of the Iraq National Olympic Committee, tortured footballers who played below par, Time magazine reports in its latest issue.
Players had their feet scalded and toenails ripped off for failing to win and allegations of torture were investigated by the international football federation FIFA.
However Time says the investigations failed because no player would dare admit to suffering such abuse for fear of even worse.
Time however says it has found what may be the first tangible evidence pointing to torture in Uday's own backyard, the administrative compound of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee in central Baghdad.
Hidden in a pile of dead leaves, 20 meters from the building housing the Iraqi Football Association, was an iron maiden. Big enough to house a grown man, the sarcophagus-shaped device is a large, metal closet with long spikes on the inside door that closes to impale its victim.
The one found in Baghdad was clearly worn from use, its nails having lost some of their sharpness. It lay on its side within view of Uday's first-floor offices in the soccer association.
The torture device was brought to Time's attention by a group of looters who had been stripping the compound of anything of value. They had left behind the iron maiden, believing it to be worthless.
US troops found scores of pages on torture printed from websites when they inspected Uday's wrecked sports center inside the presidential compound. Uday is the Ace of Hearts, No. 3 on the US military's "most wanted" deck of cards.
A new Iraqi human rights group said in Baghdad that tens of thousands of highly classified documents recording executions, arrests and interrogations under Saddam's regime have been recovered.
"We have so many files and there are more coming in every day," the founder of the Committee to Free Prisoners, Ibrahim Al-Edrisy, told AFP from the group's base at the luxury residence of a former intelligence officer. Edrisy said committee members and other "volunteers" began recovering the files from buildings and residences that belonged to the feared security branches of Saddam's regime as soon as news broke that the Iraqi dictator had lost power.
He said many documents were burned and destroyed by officials who were loyal to Saddam or who feared they could leave behind incriminating evidence. "But many have also been saved. We will use this to help all the people who have suffered," Edrisy said.
Inside one room of the building were more than 150 cabinets full of files, most of which were marked "highly classified" in red. The wall of another room was piled high with more files.
One file read by an AFP reporter contained the 1983 execution orders for 65 people accused of being associated to the Al-Dawa party, a Shiite group with close links to Iran that Saddam relentlessly tried to eradicate. A military court that oversaw treason and security hearings, Ath-Thawra, issued the two bulk execution orders on April 27 and July 8 in 1983 for all the accused to be hanged.
Aged between 21 and 35, the group covered a wide spectrum of society, with their professions ranging from unemployed people to schoolteachers, students, soldiers, a shoemaker and an engineer. Another file marked "highly confidential" recorded the 1989 execution of Abed Ali Jabboh, whose crime was to try to flee the Iraqi Army. His file listed the method of execution as "shooting".