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ICRC visits Saddam Hussein for the first time

Saddam was captured by US-led forces on December 13 Keystone

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has visited the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for the first time since he was captured by United States-led forces.

This content was published on February 21, 2004 - 15:17

The aim of the visit was to assess Saddam’s state of health and the way he was being treated.

Two ICRC staff members - one of whom was a doctor - conducted the visit at an undisclosed location inside Iraq on Saturday.

“The aim of this visit is to track and monitor the conditions of detention and the treatment of the detainee,” said ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani.

“We want to see whether he is getting enough food and water, and also to check his health condition.”

She added that Saddam gave the ICRC visitors a letter to be delivered to his family.

US custody

The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, which set out rules for the treatment of prisoners of war. Under these conventions, the ICRC cannot comment on the detainee’s condition.

The agency will, however, disclose its findings to the coalition forces holding Saddam.

Doumani said the ICRC hoped to carry out follow-up visits, but could not give any dates.

The ICRC had been seeking access to Saddam since he was captured by US-led forces near his hometown of Tikrit on December 13.

The 66-year-old former Iraqi leader had been on the run for eight months, after he was deposed last April.

The ICRC has already visited most of the other 43 high-ranking Iraqis being detained by coalition forces.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

US-led forces in Iraq are currently holding some 6,700 prisoners.
43 of these are high-ranking officials from Saddam Hussein’s former regime.
Under the terms of the Geneva Convention, US forces were obliged to give the ICRC access to Saddam Hussein.
The ICRC has visited some 10,000 prisoners in Iraq since the fall of the regime last April, many of whom have since been released.
Switzerland is the depository state of the Geneva Conventions.

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