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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Iraq bans visiting Saddam Hussein’s grave

Iraq bans visiting Saddam Hussein’s grave

Mohan Ramraj

January 23, 2012

The Iraqi government has banned individuals’ visit to the grave of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in Salahudin province, who was executed in 2006 after a local court sentenced him to death for crime against humanity.

Saddam Hussein was ousted as the president following a US-led invasion in 2003. The Iraqi government prevented visits to the tombs either from the individuals or governmental establishments for two years.

"The Iraqi cabinet directed authorities of Salahudin province to take all necessary measures to prevent any visit to Saddam Hussein’s grave," Xinhua quoted a source from the provincial operations.

Sheikh Falah al-Nada, Head of one of ex-president Saddam Hussein’s tribe confirmed that the graveyard that contains Hussein’s body, sons and some of his assistants was closed before ten days by police force. He added that this move was done after news that Hussein’s daughter, Raghad, has the intention to visit the graveyard, in addition to news that a Jordanian engineering company will renovate the tomb and expand the graveyard. "This news is unbelievable", he confirmed. Police sources in the province reported that the closure was made upon orders from the central government in Baghdad.

Since Hussein supporters and schoolchildren used to make visits there on the late dictator’s birthday and hanging date, the Iraqi government in mid-2009 had banned organised group visits to Saddam’s grave. However, visits by individuals from different provinces, including Shiite ones, had continued after the first ban.

The graveyard in Saddam’s hometown of al-Ouja, 5 km south of Tikrit, contains the bodies of Saddam Hussein, his two sons, his grandson, his brother Barzan, his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed, Baath Party member Taha yassin Ramadhan and ex-Revolution Court Chairman Awad al-Bandar.

The provincial authorities sent a police force early in the morning to seal off the building that contains the grave and prevented anyone from visiting it.

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