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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 19:54 GMT
US gives Saddam enemy POW status
Saddam Hussein, pictured shaved after his arrest
Documents found with the former president are providing information
US officials say the ousted Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is being treated as an "enemy prisoner of war".

A Pentagon spokesman said he was given the status as he was the leader of the "old regime's military forces".

The spokesman, Major Michael Shavers, said Saddam, captured by US troops in December, was entitled to all the rights under the Geneva Conventions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has asked to visit the former Iraqi leader as soon as possible.

The US spokesman did not give further details about Saddam Hussein's conditions of detention.

POW status for Saddam Hussein means that the former Iraqi leader is eligible to stand trial for war crimes.

Prisoners' rights under the Geneva Convention include:

  • Protection against violence, intimidation, insults and public curiosity

  • Protection against pressure of any kind during interrogation

  • Provision of valid identity documents

  • Food rations and drinking water sufficient to keep prisoner in good health

  • Adequate clothing and washing facilities

  • Adequate medical treatment.

No co-operation

There is still controversy over TV pictures which showed Saddam Hussein undergoing a medical examination after his capture - footage regarded by some as a failure to protect him from public curiosity.

The Vatican described the scenes as Saddam being "treated like a cow", and some sections of the Arab world were deeply offended by them.

The US maintains that the pictures were shown to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that they no longer had anything to fear.

Earlier on Friday, a senior British official said Saddam - who is being held at an undisclosed location and interrogated by the CIA - was still refusing to co-operate with his captors.

But the former president's capture last month was yielding results "far greater than we expected", the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The US-led coalition had used documents found with the ex-leader to mount operations against Saddam loyalists, the official said.


The London-based official said the top US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, had briefed UK Prime Minister Tony Blair last week about the status of Saddam Hussein's interrogation.

"Saddam is not offering information of an operationally useful kind. They [the US authorities] are taking their time, trying to get him to talk so that he can feel comfortable that he can talk in captivity," Mr Bremer is said to have told Mr Blair.

Since he was captured on 13 December near his home town of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein is said to have refused to co-operate.

However, US military officials said the briefcase of documents found in his hiding hole had yielded important information.

General Richard Myers, head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said late last month that several hundred Iraqis had been arrested as a result of this intelligence.

The BBC's Nick Childs
"Ever since he was captured, there's been a question over his legal status"

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