|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Saddam spends prison time tending garden, writing poetry
By ROBERT BARR
One of Saddam's poems is about George Bush, though it wasn't clear whether that referred to President Bush or his father, Saddam's foe in the 1991 Gulf War.
The Guardian newspaper in Britain and Newsday in New York quoted Bakhtiar Amin, the human-rights minister in the new Iraqi government, who said he visited Saddam's cell Saturday. Amin said he did not speak to the former Iraqi president, who was captured by American troops in December, seven months after his government fell to a U.S.-led invasion.
Amin said Saddam appeared "in good health and being kept in good conditions," but he "appeared demoralized and dejected," The Guardian reported.
Saddam's air-conditioned cell in a U.S. military prison is 10 feet wide and 13 feet long and contained a fold-up bed, a table and a single light bulb, Amin said.
Saddam is not allowed to mix with other prisoners, and has no television, newspapers or radio, although he has access to 145 books mostly travel books and novels donated by the Red Cross.
"Mostly he reads the Quran today," Newsday quoted Amin as saying. "He feels more afraid for his life."
Amin had little to report on Saddam's poetry. "One of the poems is about George Bush, but I had no time to read it," Amin said.
He reported that Saddam, 67, was being treated for high blood pressure and a chronic prostate infection, has a hernia and was gaining weight after losing 11 pounds during a time when he resisted all fatty foods.
Doctors have given him antibiotics and done tests to make sure he has nothing more serious, such as cancer. "To be 100 percent sure he has to do a biopsy," Newsday quoted Amin as saying. "He refused a biopsy. He didn't want to."
Saddam and other detainees get an MRE (meal ready to eat) breakfast and hot food twice a day, Amin said. Dessert might include oranges, apples, pears or plums, but Saddam also likes American muffins and cookies, Amin said.
"He is looking after a few bushes and shrubs and has even placed a circle of white stones around a small palm tree," Amin was quoted as saying.
"His apparent care for his surroundings is ironic when you think he was responsible for one of the biggest ecocides when he drained the southern marshes."
Saddam has not been given access to lawyers, Amin said. Iraqi and U.S. officials said this month that Saddam, who is to be tried first by Iraqi courts, would have access to an attorney when he is physically in Iraqi custody. He is legally in Iraqi custody but is being held by coalition forces.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top