Baghdad: The rope used to hang former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may be put on auction, with bids starting at $7 million, media reported Friday.
According to a report in The Independent, the rope was in the possession of a former Iraqi minister who was tortured thrice by the Saddam regime and it was coveted by two Kuwaiti businessmen, a wealthy Israeli family, a bank and an Iranian religious organisation.
The former Iraqi minister, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, who led Hussein to his execution in 2006, kept it wrapped around the neck of a statue of the former dictator in his living room, in northern Baghdad, The Independent reported, citing Arabic news site Al Araby.
Al-Rubaie -- who has not yet confirmed or denied the impending sale -- is said to want more than the reported $7 million for the rope and is expected to engage in negotiations with the potential buyers.
He claims to have ordered his men to bring him back some of the rope after the toppled dictator was hung by the state.
Al-Rubaie told The Independent that he "thought it appropriate" to drape it around a bronze bust of the former dictator that the Americans removed from Hussein`s palace.
The money collected from the rope sale, "covered in hatred and ignorance", should go to the state treasury to be used for public benefit as Iraqi law prohibited such sale for private gain, human rights activist Ahmed Saeed said.
Al-Rubaie, a Shia Muslim who practised as a neurologist and surgeon in Britain for 24 years while in exile, before he led Saddam to the gallows, was persecuted and even sentenced to death in absentia for his beliefs. He has maintained that Saddam "was not a religious man".
"I was hoping to see him show some remorse for the terrible crimes, the hundreds of thousands of his own citizens that he and his henchmen killed," the now member of the Iraqi parliament thus recalled the day Saddam was executed.
"But there was nothing. I could see he was not a religious man. We had to remind him to say `Allahu Akbar` (`God is greatest`) as he was about to die."
Saddam, who suffocated Shia and Kurdish movements that sought to overthrow his Ba`ath government, was captured in 2003 by a US-British military coalition.
He was accused of storing weapons of mass destruction.
On Nov 5, 2006, Hussein was convicted of charges related to the killing of 148 Iraqi Shias in 1982 and was sentenced to death. He was hanged Dec 30, 2006.