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Arabiya airs video of Saddam aide body "desecration"

Written by: Staff

DUBAI, May 1 (Reuters) Al Arabiya television showed today footage of what it said was the body of a detained aide to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being trampled at an Iraqi state-run morgue.

It said it was the body of Mohammed al-Zubaidi -- a prime minister during Saddam's era. Zubaidi was number 9 on the US list of most wanted former regime leaders and had been detained in April 2003.

Zubaidi died in US custody in December 2005 and was handed over to Iraqi authorities.

The Dubai-based television said the ''body was subjected to desecration apparently by Iraqis''. It showed the head being trampled repeatedly.

''Step on his mouth,'' an off-camera voice was heard saying in Arabic with an Iraqi dialect.

Arabiya did not say how it acquired the tape and no comment was immediately available from the Iraqi health ministry.

A US military spokesman in Baghdad said that standard procedure was for the remains of detainees who died in US custody to be handed over to the Iraqi health ministry after an investigation into the cause of death.

It is not clear what the 67-year-old Zubaidi died of.

Zubaidi was the commander of the middle Euphrates region ahead of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He was named prime minister in 1991, following Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, but relieved of the post two years later. He was later a deputy prime minister.

After the Gulf War, when Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority rose up against Saddam, Zubaidi, himself a Shi'ite, was credited with having put down the revolt, when thousands of Shi'ite Muslims were killed by the government's security forces.

He had been shown on television kicking Shi'ites who were taken prisoner during the uprising.

Arabiya said US forces said their responsibility for Zubaidi ended with his body's handover.

But Khalil al-Dulaimi, the lead attorney in Saddam's trial, told Arabiya: ''They (US forces) shoulder the moral and criminal responsibility.'' REUTERS DKS RK0205

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