Saddam cell now unlit, dusty and missing a commode

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 12:10

Camp Victory: The small cell concealed in a bombed out villa is dusty now, has no electricity, and its door and toilet are gone, bound for a US museum. But it once held Iraqi president Saddam Hussain.

There is no graffiti on the cell’s white walls, no remnants of the once feared dictator’s presence.

The narrow concrete platform that held his mattress is empty, and only a few pipes and an outline remain of the stainless steel combination toilet-sink that was mounted on one wall.

The toilet and the door are to end up in a military police museum in Missouri in the United States, according to Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Brooks, the command historian for United States Forces - Iraq.

In the dusty courtyard where Saddam was given an hour a day to exercise, plywood boxes of baked-dry dirt are all that remain of the dictator’s garden, in which he is said to have planted flowers and vegetables.

According to Brooks, he spent the other 23 hours a day in the cell, unless he was in court or being interrogated.

Saddam’s prison was housed inside one of two bombed-out villas on an island in a man-made lake on Baghdad’s outskirts, within the Camp Victory military base, which includes a number of palaces and lakes the dictator commissioned.

The outside of Saddam’s one-time prison, which was known simply as Building 114, is scarred by shrapnel, and the uppermost portion of its roof has collapsed.

The villa’s exterior was intentionally left damaged so as not to arouse suspicions, Brooks told reporters.

“The exterior was left bombed-out, so people wouldn’t know what was going on inside,” he said. But “inside, we converted it to a maximum-security prison.”

The multi-million-dollar modifications took several months and were “done with a great deal of secrecy,” he said. The prison was guarded by military police.

Saddam was not the only prisoner held on the small island -– Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his role in poison gas attacks, including one on the town of Halabja in 1988 that killed 5,000 people, was also jailed there.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 12:10

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